Help! Help! I’m Being Repressed!

Liberal Mormons love to whine and gripe about their bad experiences with Church authorities.  And seriously, who can blame them?  Think of the poor, assertive relief society sister whose perspective is dismissed or undervalued by the ward brethren.  The gospel doctrine teacher whose open-ended and exploratory style is rejected as not "spiritual" enough.  The thoughtful missionary made to endure the overbearing censure of another hyper-orthodox elder not much older or more mature than he is.  Given Mormonism’s lay priesthood, its rule excluding one of the sexes from formal positions of priesthood authority and what some would describe as a lack of checks and balances at the local level, perhaps Mormon congregational life is a ticking timebomb of bad experiences just waiting to go off!

Joseph Smith was keenly aware of the temptations faced by those in authority to abuse their positions of power.  As he once famously declared, in D&C 121:39:

"We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion."

As you probably never would have guessed, I think we all need a place to vent about our personal experiences with being on the receiving (or giving) end of unrighteous dominion.  I also think there is virtue in airing our grievances with authority in the right forum.  (And if BCC isn’t for airing grievances, what the heck is it for?)  But I think there is even more virtue in sharing constructive advice on how to best deal with experiences of unrighteous dominion.  So, let’s purge, people.  I’ll start.  Here’s my all-time favorite experience with unrighteous dominion:

About a year into my mission, I was transferred to a small, dusty town in the middle of the Argentine pampas.  My companion was a native Argentine, and one of our first tasks together was to locate a new aprtment and negoitate a new lease.  We found a dumpy house that fit our budget, and that we thought we could stand, and we then met with the landlord to finalize the lease terms.  The mission had given us a form contract used by all Argentine missions to secure new housing.  We presented it to the landlord.

The landlord was not pleased with the contract at all.  He explained to us that many of its provisions were obviously appropriate for apartment high-rises in Buenos Aires, but had no application to a house rental in La Pampa.  He obviously had a point.  We could plainly read the provisions in question, and we recognized that since such a large percentage of Argentine missionaries lived in highrises in or around Buenos Aires, it made sense that the form contract contained these terms; however, it also made sense that the landlord would object to them.  The landlord provided us with a form contract of his own, and asked that we take it to our mission president for approval.

Later that afternoon, we went to the local post office and I called the Mission Office from one of the semi-private phonebooths inside.  My intent was to inform the Assistants to the President of the contract problem, and ask them if they could seek approval to use the contract provided by the landlord.  I made my call, and Elder "Mathews" answered the phone.

Elder Mathews had only been A.P. for a couple of months, but he already had a bad reputation.  He was the kind of elder who, after losing a game of "padle" to a local youth, would storm off and exclaim:  "Hey buddy, my shoes cost more than your house!"  Yes, a real class act.  Anyway, I had never actually spoken with Mathews before, so I naively figured that doing so would be a non-event.

As I proceeded to calmly explain to Mathews the nature of our request, I was rudely interrupted by his callous and demeaning tone.  "Elder Brown!," he exclaimed haughtily. "The contract you were given was drawn up by attorneys in Buenos Aires who were hired by the Church!  Area President So-and-So hired the local authorities who hired the attorneys, and President So-and-So was given his calling by President Benson!  Therefore, if you question the mission contract, you are failing to sustain the Prophet, and you are undermining the Church!"

I was stunned.  Dumb-founded.  Was this a dream?  Did Elder Mathews really just say what I think he said?  Was he serious?  (Yes, he was).  The rest of the phonecall is a bit hazy to me.  I somehow managed to take a conciliatory tone with Elder Mathews, and by the end of the phonecall, he was only slightly mad, as opposed to boiling mad.  I actually wanted to reach through the telephone and bite his head off, but I was so taken aback by what had happened that I didn’t even tell him off.  I was cognizant of the fact that, as A.P., Elder Mathews could probably have me shipped off to some po-dunk hamlet to rot if I crossed him.  Thus, I constrained myself.

I hung up with Elder Mathews and immediately called the Mission President.  Someone needed to get an earful after what had just happened.  But I was not optimistic that talking to President "Fowler" would accomplish much.  He was not the most pro-active or assertive of mission presidents.  He was the type of guy who, if you told him, "President, I’ve contracted leprosy, the young women in my ward are trying to seduce me, and my companion tries to strangle me nightly with chicken wire!," would tell you to "just pray and read your scriptures."  You know the type.  So my expectations were low.

As I unloaded onto President Fowler, I barely let him get a word in edgewise, except for the occasional conciliatory sputter.  I remember very little of what I said, other than my last line:  "If Elder Mathews can’t do his job as A.P., then he needs to be replaced by someone who will!"  Somehow, the conversation ended, and I stormed out of the phonebooth.  As we were leaving, my amused companion told me about a comment he overheard from another post office visitor while I was yelling on the phone:  "What I wouldn’t do to be able to speak English like that!"  I guess the locals were unaccustomed to hearing loud, irate, mile-a-minute English from Mormon missionaries.

I honestly don’t remember how the contract issue played out.  I believe that the President did finally approve the new contract I sent to him, so I guess you could say I got the last laugh on Elder Mathews.  In any event, I never did run into Mathews again, so the issue never again came up.

I would also like to believe the the persuasiveness of my arguemnt to the President is what let to our contract being approved.  However, given my indignant reaction to Elder Mathews, it may have been that the President was just pursuing the path of least resistance and trying to get the whole episode to blow over.  Is there some moral here as to how to react to instances of unrighteous dominion?  Perhaps not.

Obviously, this story is more notable for the jaw-dropping bone-headedness of the A.P.’s behavior than it is for any true harm I was actually made to suffer.  But it does illustrate, if in a somewhat outlandish fashion, a quintessential example of how "some men, as soon as they get a little authority," will exercise unrighteous dominion.

What’s your worst (or best) experience with unrighteous dominion?  How did you deal with it?  Did it permanently disillusion you, or did you get over it and move on?  Let’s hear them, folks.  Purge.  I promise you’ll feel better.

Aaron B

Comments

  1. I already shared this at the chastity post but what’s another round of good clean airing of grievances?

    When I was about to get married, my fiance, now wife, lived with a number of girls from her ward which were not too fond of her. In order to avoid the awkward situation she began to sleep over at my parents house or I would do so while she slept at my apartment (I lived alone). Naturally her roommates immediately went to the bishop to tell him that we were living together and this ‘worried’ them.

    So when the time came for her to get her temple recommend so we could get married the bishop brought the subject up saying that he had no doubt that we had not done anything wrong, but because of the ‘appearance of evil’ which our actions showed and due to the impression that the roommates had of what we were doing, he could not grant her a temple recommend.

    Here’s another example. My best friend got sent to the mission right next to mine. Since we were in the same country and the two mission offices were right next to each other we could send recorded cassette tapes to each other every week free of charge. So we would talk, share stories, some of them about are lives before the mission, we would even sing an occasional song (again, pre-mission songs). Well, one day there was rioting in the capital city so all missionaries were instructed to stay indoors. This left the office elders with not much to do but, what else, go through people’s mail.

    They popped in my friend’s tape and I guess this was one of his less-appropriate-almost-going-home tapes. He talked about how he wanted to go home and pimp all the girls, and told all about the dirty words he was learning in spanish. Now in his other tapes he was pretty good, and aside from the occasional Beastie Boys song, he didn’t have anything too bad to say. Well, the office elders turned in the tape to the AP’s, one of them being my trainer who was the one who taugh me that it was okay to sing worldly songs, especially on P-day.

    They had a fit and turned it into the Pres. Keep in mind, it was my friend’s tape, not mine. Well, I got an emergency transfer in total secrecy in the middle of the night. I was instructed to get on a bus that left in 1 hour to meet the president after a 12-hour all night drive. (Now I was a good hard working missionary and I was expecting something very good.)

    I got sat down in front of the Pres. and he proceeded to tell me how he thought that I probably should be sent home, and that he would protect his daughter from me with a stick if necessary. (I had no clue where that came from.) So naturally I got demoted (again because of what my friend had said on the tape) and had to work in close collaboration with the AP’s and office elder’s until I could shape up. What was amusing is when I would go on splits with the AP’s (about 4 times a week due to the arrangement) they would talk about how they were ready to go home and start their band where all the girls would love them. They were currently writing their songs and practicing them, and not just on P-day (remember, this is my trainer). Of course I was trying to learn my lesson on saying and doing inappropriate things so I tried really hard, and rather successfully to avoid participation in the fun. The AP’s would then go to the pres. and say that I wasn’t learning my lesson and that I was growing bitter.

    After 4 months I got transfered, to be another junior companion (I was a zone leader before this) in another area. My friend, who had also gotten in trouble, had long since been restored to Zonie status and had gone home while I was still learning my lesson. Eventually the AP’s went home and I immediately became zone leader again, after a total of 6 months ‘probation’ where I really feel like I changed little if any. (While mission callings didn’t mean that much to me, the demotion was an obvious punishment which did mean a lot to me.)

    This episode has probably taught me more than any other that leaders are not perfect and can make rather consequential errors. I guess I never really have gotten completely over this episode since I still harbor not entirely Christ like feelings toward those AP’s and my Pres.

    There! Now you see the violence inherent in the system!

  2. My second husband insisted that I never wear jeans because it wasn’t lady like, and he also objected to my friends, choice of words, and any of my non-Molly-Mormon qualities. He only lasted ten months. I didn’t kill him, I threw him out.

  3. I had a mission companion who basically invoked the priesthood while demonstrating the proper way to prepare scrambled eggs. What a moron.

    In retrospect, however, his method WAS pretty good…

  4. I think it’s interesting that as a convert of 19 years, whose level of belief is at best marginal I do not have one single personal experience with unrighteous dominion. Of course, I’ve read lots of other people’s stories…but I don’t have any of my own to share. Without exception, my bishop’s have been stand-up, loving, encouraging and supportive, and my husband is a walking, talking, breathing, gainfully employed example of D&C 121:41-42. I don’t think I’m unusually blessed in that regard.

    I do think the unrighteous dominion stories serve a very good purpose: they help those of us who have no such stories to share realize what good people we’ve known.

    This particular scripture is one that Joseph Smith got Spot On.

  5. D. Fletcher says:

    Hmm, where to start?…

    I was asked to play the organ at the fireside last year the night before the NYC temple was dedicated. The fireside was held at Radio City Music Hall, and they needed an organist who was in the Local 802 musicians union, and also, somebody pretty good, so they asked me in January to do this fireside in June. The first week in May, they called to un-ask me, because I don’t hold a Temple Recommend. Apparently, somebody (methinks our Stake President) decided that all participants at this fireside where President Hinckley would be speaking, needed to be temple-worthy. In other words, I was not (am not) worthy to be in President Hinckley’s presence, on hallowed/dedicated ground, or not.

    It’s called unrighteous dominion…

  6. Like Ann, I’ve never had an experience with unrighteous dominion — at least not one that I can easily recall. I’ve had great bishops and stake presidents, and my mission president is for me the model of a righteous, caring priesthood holder.

    Sorry to hear about the others.

  7. As a teenager I had been skipping my Sunday School classes for a few weeks because I did not like my Sunday School teacher (I admit it was a silly reason), but finally decided that I wanted to go to Sunday School somehow, so went to Brother J’s class instead (he taught the class for the next age group up). I asked Brother J if I could attend his class, and he was fine with my attending his class rather than my own. I participated and enjoyed the class. Then, somehow, the Sunday School President got wind of it, and the next Sunday, when I showed up again in Brother J’s class, the SS President called me out of class, lectured me on going to the age-appropriate Sunday School, and marched me into my own class, where I sat sullenly. The next Sunday I was back to reading books in the lobby. Sure, I was a teenager, and I did eventually go back to my own class and learn to like my Sunday School teacher, but I had been baptized less than a year previously, and I don’t think the Sunday School President himself needed to get involved.

    That said, this is a pretty minor example, and like Ann, I really haven’t experienced much unrighteous dominion in the church (but, then, I’m still young, so there’s still time…)

  8. Arielle says:

    When I was 22 years old (this was in the mid-1990s), I felt very strongly (after much prayer and study) that it was the right time for me to receive my endowments. At the time, I was not planning on going on a mission, nor was there any prospect for marriage. I was still in college, but I had been financially independent for several years. So I went to the bishop to discuss my desires and feelings. He said he needed to discuss it with the stake president and they would decide if I could go or not.

    After a couple weeks passed and I hadn’t heard from him, I followed up with him. He said he hadn’t forgotten about me, but just hadn’t had time to talk to the stake president. A couple more weeks passed, and I followed up again, and he gave me the same story. Every couple of weeks for 3 months we did the same routine. Finally he told me a decision had been made and he set up an appointment. I went to his office and he informed me that he and the stake president had decided it was not the right time for me to go to the temple.

    I was devastated. I spent the next 3 hours sobbing. He didn’t know it, but during those 3 months of waiting, I had decided to go on a mission. So it would only be another 4 months or so before I would go to the temple after all, but I still felt he was totally and completely wrong.

    Later, when I was completing my mission papers and met with the stake president, I asked why he had decided I couldn’t go to the temple a few months before. He had no idea what I was talking about. Now, I hadn’t met him before, and I doubt I would have stood out in his memory in any way, so he could have just forgot. However, he told me that the appropriate process after I had met with the bishop would have been an interview with him and then the bishop and stake pres would discuss. In other words, it seems the bishop just lied to me. He put me off and put me off, and then lied to me.

    I bit my tongue and did what I had to do to get my mission papers in, but I felt betrayed. I’ve moved on, but I still feel a bit of sting from the whole thing.

  9. I have no doubt that experiences with the various corrupt or egocentric people we have met are limitless and that there will continue to be such people in the future. Especially in the mission field. My companion once said, “any organization that is led by a bunch of 20 year old boys is going to have serious problems.”

    What strikes me about D&C 121:39, however, is the phrase “almost all men” which, for me, immediately prompts the question, “is it I?” It’s quite easy to see in others but fairly difficult in ourselves. I haven’t ever had enough dominion to really be able to exercise it unrighteously, but I wonder if I would if I did.

    I think part of the danger comes when we become sure of our rightness or unwilling to take opposing accounts seriously. Simply being Christ-like appears to be the real solution. And perhaps the very fact that I’m so self-conscious about it is the first step. Even still, I wonder if there’s anything we can do in particular to make sure we don’t fall into the same trap.

    (Women are excused from the indictment though! Is God a gender essentialist?)

  10. Good story, Aaron. I think part of the reason that Elder “Mathews” ended up as an AP in the first place had something to do with the fact that he was selected by his friend, Elder S (the other AP), and the President was too new to really know what was going on.

    The thing I remember best about Elder M is what happened after he went home. As it turned out, he had been involved in a rather physical relationship with one or more young ladies in Mar del Plata (while he was a zone leader there … and there were pictures to prove it, I’m told). Pte F found out (the fmr companion fessed up during regular interview) and ended up calling Elder M’s Stake President back in Utah (or wherever) for resolution. I’m not sure how it all played out from there — the take-home message (all this was related to us in a zone conference) was something about how we were supposed to tell on our companions if they were misbehaving.

    In any case, I felt a bit vindicated for having judged Elder M so harshly over the few months that our paths crossed. He really was a hypocrite. It wasn’t just me. Thank goodness I had been banished to Toay months before, so our contact was minimal.

    In reference to D.’s comment — I ended up playing the music for President Hinckley’s visit to Iceland while I was living there a couple of years ago. At the time, I hadn’t been to church for something like four years. It seemed to go OK, almost as if there were nothing wrong with having the vilest of sinners play the music at a church meeting. I sometimes used to play a sort of lyrical version of “Stairway to Heaven” for prelude music in Sacrament meeting. I got a lot of compliments on it.

    I think some leaders have a really hard time figuring out what’s important and what isn’t. If you’re planning a conference, I would say that having a working microphone is important, and having places for people to sit is important. Maybe even a parking lot is nice to have. But worrying about the spiritual credentials of the musicians might be a little bit more than they need to stress about. Somebody else is usually choosing the hymns, anyway, and there aren’t drums involved — though the organ in our new stake center here has MIDI inputs….

    BTW, Aaron, I have been out of town for a few days. I’ll try to return your call later this week.

    John W

  11. Aaron: …he overheard from another post office visitor while I was yelling on the phone: “What I wouldn’t do to be able to speak English like that!”

    I totally agree. Telling someone off in English truly is a joy and a pleasure.

  12. I love the title of this post. I think of it and laugh every time someone implies that I’m being held down by my housewifery.

    I’ve never felt “officially” repressed by anyone in a position of authority. I did go out a couple of times in college with an idiot guy who told me that I needed to change my lit major because the books I was reading weren’t up to “gospel standards.” When I expressed my indignance that he would presume to tell me what I ought to be reading or studying, he explained that after I got married (to him, he implied), I wouldn’t have time for that sort of thing anyway. It was our second (and last) date. The bastard.

  13. Floyd the Wonderdog says:

    I didn’t realize until later what a rotten mission president I had. The office Elders were all former football players. The Pres started his own football team and had them play the local college. A humble Elder would never make AP, but a spiritually mediocre second stringer from Snow College could. The Pres was always getting visits from GA’s calling him back into line. But because he was a local, he was given quite a bit of slack.

    My leaders have generally been good, but here in Michigan we’ve had some doozies. One Stake President did away with Home and Visiting Teaching. His new program consisted of group meetings. I followed with blind obedience, being rather young and inexperienced. One bishop refused to follow the program since it had not been approved by higher authorities. He’s my hero now. We know that the prophet will not lead us astray, but that scripture doesn’t mention Stake Presidents. Salt Lake got wind of the change and called the Stake Pres on the carpet.

    I used to think of these gentlemen as just misguided, until our last bishop. My son died of leukemia after 10 weeks in the hospital, six of them in intensive care. The bishop and his wife told us that we had to provide dinner for anyone who attended the funeral. We had $850,000 in hospital bills alone, not including the doctor’s bills. We told the bishop that we didn’t want a dinner. Their reasoning was *That’s the way we do it in Michigan.* We again said that we didn’t want a dinner nor could we afford it. I didn’t know how much of the bills the insurance would cover and thought that I would have to sell my home just to begin to pay it. But the bishop, or rather his wife (she really ran the ward during his term in office, I thought that I could see her lips move a little as he spoke), insisted that if we wanted the funeral in the church, we had to pay for a dinner. I thought the dinner was to feed those who had traveled a long distance not to pauperize the family. For my wife’s sake (she felt she needed the assurance that a church funeral would give), I gave in. But wait!!! This bishop was only just getting started.

    After my son was buried, this bishop decided that I needed to be called to teach the senior primary boys class. 11 boys from 9 to 11. The second week I taught that class, I had a panic attack. My son was dead. He would never grow up as these boys were doing. He would never serve a mission. I wouldn’t be able to take him to the temple his first time. I would never be able to see him marry. I would never be able to spoil his kids. My son’s future was gone. Seeing these boys so full of life drove this home to me. I made it through the day. The next week, it happened again. After a couple of months of this, I went to see the bishop. I told him what was happening. He stared at me and didn’t say a word. I waited a couple of minutes to give him time to compose his thoughts. No reply. I asked if it were an inspired calling. After all, I know I wouldn’t ask a brother to teach a boy’s class right after his only son had died. The bishop spoke his first word, *No.* I waited for further elaboration and didn’t get any so I left. I wasn’t released. The problems grew worse. I couldn’t sleep Saturday night in anticipation of the terror I would feel the next day. I wrote an e-mail to a member of the Stake Presidency. His reply was to offer me a blessing. Still no relief. After several more months, the Primary President told my wife in passing how much she appreciated me as a teacher and asked how I liked the calling. My wife told her the unvarnished truth. The next week the bishop’s councilor over the Primary pulled me into a class room and told me what the Primary President had told him. I confirmed the truth of her statements. I don’t know what the councilor did, but I was released the next week. I guarantee that the bishop could not have misunderstood what I told him. I was tortured for almost a year because he felt that his uninspired whims were to be obeyed without question. I know believe that a man MUST be called of God. No more callings because of relation or desperation.

    The bishop’s wife did her best to drive my wife from the ward. A few weeks after burying my son, she approached my wife and started talking about her son who was the same age as my son. She said that he really appreciated being able to see him grow to become a young man and what a good son he was. Having finished the thoughtless part she quickly moved into the cruel part of her monologue. She said that she was glad to have three sons because then if one died she would always have the other two. Before you act too kindly and try to find a way to justify her thoughtlessness, she had pulled the same sort of stunt with a sister who was going through a divorce. She told that sister how grateful she was for a husband who was a righteous priesthood holder. My wife teared up, but left to cry in the privacy of the bathroom. Then the bishop’s wife started telling people in the ward that my wife was going through a nervous breakdown. This bishop’s wife exhibited a behavior that in the military is called *wearing her husband’s rank*. She told people that she was Sister Bishop. She used this authority (as she supposed) to ride roughshod over the ward. If someone didn’t give in, she would run to her husband and get her way. We won’t cover how the bishop falsified records to inflate his performance. But when the new Bishop (the change in case is intended) took office, he was stunned to see the records.

    I reminded the Stake President one day that in two weeks the bishop would have been in office for five years. His eyes grew wide and asked that I confirm what I had just said. He then asked for a list of recommended replacements. Five years to the day he was sustained, this bishop was released. I think that the Stake President would have done it earlier, but didn’t want to offend the bishop.

    Several times during this bishop’s tenure, I felt a strong desire to just quit going to church ( I don’t have time to cover the many other times my family was offended by this bishop or his wife). It took a lot of willpower. I reminded myself often that this bishop would be released some day. If this ward were all I knew of the church, I probably would have gone inactive. Someday I will have to testify that this bishop and his wife did not treat me or my family as Christians should. But I will ask that the Lord not to punish them for it because we’ve forgiven them. That said, we will not forget. We will never give these people authority or power over us. You may say that I then have not truly forgiven them, but I have forgiven them of past transgressions. I have not however given them permission to commit continued transgressions against me or my family.

    I am on the High Council and was supposed to speak last month on that portion of D&D 121 that discusses unrighteous dominion. The Lord must have felt that would be too great a temptation for me because the Bishop of that ward called and admitted that he had forgotten that the HC doesn’t speak on Mother’s Day, but would I be so kind as to speak on Mother’s Day. I think that whenever I read that verse I will think of that bishop and his wife- Sister Bishop.

    Catharsis is good.

  14. Floyd – my jaw is on the floor. God bless you.

    Personally, I haven’t had any episodes of unrighteous dominion. I have avoided situations in which dominion may have been exercised, either righteously or unrighteously. As a single woman who sort of floats around to different wards, I don’t get subjected to much authority. The priesthood leaders I have dealt with have all been very kind.

  15. Floyd, c’mon, you can’t come up with a better example than that?!!

  16. Floyd, I was just kidding by the way. You are a stronger man than I by far. Stories like yours are so ridiculous it’s hard to believe you didn’t make it up for some fictional writing class or something. Bless you brother.

  17. Ted Baxter says:

    Our bishop’s wife refers to herself as the “mother of the ward,” mentioned in sacrament meeting how heavy is the “mantle of the bishop’s wife,” and has been heard to make comments about how it’s “lonely at the top.” I wish she would stop.

  18. Floyd — That is the one of the most terrible stories that I have ever heard. I am so sorry you had to endure it, when your family was already suffering terribly.

    Ted, I find the “mother of the ward” comment very interesting. Someone tried to foist that title on me once and I suggested perhaps it was the RS President who would fill that role, not me. I could probably use years of therapy from my time of being the bishop’s wife, and regret not doing it a time when the church would pay for it! It is interesting to me to see how different women cope in this role — it never occurred to me that some women would try to coop “power” unrighteously.

  19. Some nutjob up at Ricks College liked the woman who became my wife. After one or two dates, he told her that while he was praying early in the morning (when you get the “best revelation”) and reading his scriptures, he saw a vision of himself and her, all dressed in white, surrounded by their posterity. This was a unilateral revelation that he was to marry her, and that she had to comply. When she disagreed, he told her she was not being righteous enough to receive the will of God. What a moron!

    He’s probably wearing wife-beaters now, claiming that God told him to practice polygamy and molesting little children.

  20. Probably Jordan. Probably.

  21. If we’re going to go down this road then yeah I’ve got stories. I took this woman out my freshman year at BYU. On the first date she claimed to have dreamt about me since the sixth grade and that the only reason she came to BYU was to meet me. After I ran away, she started to stalk the other girls I would date. uh…sociopath?

  22. JS-

    The perhaps unclear point was that he was using his priesthood authority to claim revelation on her behalf, even though he had no right to do so. That’s unrighteous dominion. Maybe he DID see a vision. He still had no right in the priesthood to impose what he saw as God’s will upon her.

    The woman you took out has her own problems, but unrighteous dominion does not seem to be one of them.

  23. HL Rogers says:

    Or perhpas J. Stapley it is your RAW animal magnetism!!

  24. hmmm…indeed. Perhaps it was I who exercised unrighteous dominion by wielding this animal magnetism that entrapped her. Apologies to all. I need to go now and apologize to my wife.

  25. J.,

    You married your stalker? Cool beans, man.

  26. No. No. No. Rule No. 1: Never marry the stalker.

    I meant the woman who was pulled into marriaige by my obvious animallic charm. (Side note: In reality, I pestered my wife for almost 2 years before she wanted anything to have anything to do with me.)

  27. OK, here’s a righteous dominion story. When my son was the teacher’s quorum president, it was their turn to plan a mid-week YM/YW activity. He decided, and the advisor approved, a volleyball game. The activity was supposed to start at 7:00. We arrived about 20 minutes early to set up. There was nobody else there. We got the equipment out and struggled for the 20 minutes to try to get things set up. Other young people arrived, at quarter till, 10 till, 5 till…but no adult leaders. His quorum advisor showed up about five after, and they finally got things set up.

    Well, I was fuming. WTH? Ten kids were there before the first organization adult showed up. The quorum was supposed to be in charge of the activity…but nobody showed, not even the advisor, to help get ready.

    When the adult showed up, I wandered down the hall to the bishop’s office, where the bishopric meeting was just getting started, and I went OFF. I did not swear, but I made it very clear, very loudly, that I thought it was really lame that the preparation for the evening’s youth activity was being made by a fourteen year-old boy and his mother.

    The next night, the YM president called and THANKED ME. He said it had never occurred to them that when the kids arrive, an adult should already be there to greet them and get things in order, and that they would make sure that was the case in the future. Considering I had just said (yelled) quite a few mean things the night before about this man’s organizational skills…well, I thought that was a major class act. I felt about three inches tall.

    Patience, humility, long-suffering, and love unfeigned. Good stuff.

  28. Daylan Darby says:

    #10 John W – lyrical version of “Stairway to Heaven”
    Any more information on this would be appreciated:

    Daylan Darby @ earthlink . net

  29. D. Fletcher says:

    I’ve never played “Stairway to Heaven,” but I have done “I Feel You, Johanna,” from Sweeney Todd, for Church prelude music. No one listens, anyway. Also, “This Nearly Was Mine,” from South Pacific.

  30. a random John says:

    Every week I go to church hoping that one of the deacons will pass out a sheet with lyrics for the rest hymn – In the Garden of Eden by I. Ron Butterfly. Alas, it never happens. Of course there are no deacons (or even young men) in our ward, so that might explain it.

  31. D. Fletcher says:

    I know you’re making a joke, but those are the real words to that song!

  32. dannyboy says:

    For approx. 5 years, while I was struggling with cancer, in and out of the hospital, i did not get a single Hometeaching visit, or any other positive kind of visit. I did get the Elders come and visit, trying to give me the guilt trip for not being able to attend Church every Sunday!!! And a couple of times, I got rude phone calls telling me that I hadnt been paying my tithing, that I had ben spotted sitting with my fiancee at the Hospital coffeeshop ( other memners who were Residents/Hospital Staff were spying on me!!!, obviously) etc!!!!
    Thankfully, we now have a wonderful, considerate, open-minded person who is our Bishop, so, life is good!!!!

  33. Thanks for making that clear, J. Your original comment was worryingly ambiguous.

  34. Last Lemming says:

    he was using his priesthood authority to claim revelation on her behalf, even though he had no right to do so.

    In contrast, I once met a guy whose girlfriend had received a revelation that she was to marry him. I asked him if he had prayed about it himself. “No,” he replied. “I’m perfectly happy with her answer. Why should I risk messing it all up by seeking my own?”

  35. Dannyboy, I am so sorry that nobody was there to help you through your ordeal. I wish that people would get out of a mentallity of seeing a less active person and doing an invite to Church without getting to know the person or where they are at presently. Your case is a dramatic example as to how people can be so wrong. Am glad that you seem to put it all behind you.

  36. Floyd, I am so sorry for the loss of your son. I have heard from others who have lost a child how they often have to excuse themselves from meetings. I am glad you are such a strong member to not let that keep you from activity.

  37. D. Fletcher says:

    I’ve been out of the Church for a whole year, and no sign of the Home Teachers. And my Home Teacher is Steve Evans…

    Oh, well, I’ve been busy playing the organ in other wards to notice that my own ward could care less.

  38. Hey D., you’re the one who said he was too busy this weekend…. albeit so that we could do movie stuff, not home teaching….

  39. D. Fletcher says:

    Yeah, Steve, I’ve seen you this year, but you forgot your spiritual thought for the day.

    P.S. Truthfully, I don’t care at all, you know that. The Bishop said he would send the Home Teachers, but I’m guessing he hasn’t even spoken to you about it.

  40. I think “unrighteous dominion” is too inflated a term, suggesting the problem is somehow related to the Church or to priesthood. I would restate the problem in blunter terms: Some people are jerks. You may encounter such a person as your neighbor, your coworker, your boss, or your bishop. The general solution is to avoid as much interaction as one can reasonably avoid with the jerk.

    I won’t speculate as to what one does if blessed with a jerk bishop, but it does seem to be a fairly rare occurence, given the large number of potential jerk bishops I have encountered in various wards over the years. Jerk bishops tend to cause more problems by their jerkiness than they solve, so there is no reason to think stake or senior leaders have a preference for jerk bishops. They generally know better than to call a bishop who will cause them problems down the line.

  41. No, the bishop has mentioned you to me. You’d be surprised, I think, how often your name comes up and how many people care.

  42. D. Fletcher says:

    Hmm, I wonder who those people are? Obviously not friends of mine, or they might have called me themselves.

    LOL, never mind, Steve, I’m perfectly happy in my state of freedom, free to not have to examine my beliefs every single day.

    P.S. If anyone was exhibiting signs of unrighteous dominion, in my case, it wasn’t the Bishop. It was someone higher up, punishing me for something else besides the lapse of a Temple Recommend. I wish him… all my best — he’s had a hard life, and mine’s been comparatively easy.

  43. alamojag says:

    I have mentioned it before in several posts, but my experience with my wife’s health after her last miscarriage (she has since had a complete hysterectomy) is very similar to that of Floyd and Dannyboy. It got to the point that the Relief Society President refused to visit my wife in the hospital even after I begged her to because the branch president forbad it. I stopped attending that branch. We have since had our records transferred, but is has been nearly two years since visiting teachers have even pretended to try to visit (even though every week they tell me they are going to call), and my wife doesn’t attend–it is not a safe place for her.

    And the district here wonders why we haven’t been able to grow ourselves into a stake. I believe all they need to do to understand why is to look at how we have been treated. I have several potential missionary opportunities every week. The diplomas on my wall are from BYU and the licenses are from Utah, so the question comes up. I always say, yes, I am a Mormon, and change the subject. I don’t want anybody else to be treated by the Church the way we have here. The only question I have is will that failure (refusal?) to take advantage of those “missionary moments” will be on my head, or on the heads of the leaders who have made the Church in Alamogordo, New Mexico, a cold and unfriendly place.

  44. I have to agree with Ann. I may have had some experiences but I have forgotten them — I think it would do me no good to carry them around. On the other hand, I may not have had any such experiences at all. I sometimes find that those who think they are on the stinging end of the unrighteous dominion are mistaken — their lack of knowledge or a misunderstanding has caused them to feel abused. Or sometimes, if a leader sticks to the counsel or rule given, the person sees it as unrighteous dominion, as opposed to what is right.

    I am certainly making no judgments about any of the stories related here, other than that several of them are soul-wrenching and others are just plain funny.

    Probably I’m on the exercising end rather than the stinging end of the unrighteous dominion. If you can’t do a little wielding (repressing) once in a while, what’s the point?

  45. A story of legend from the New Mexico Albuquerque Mission dealing with this subject:

    Elder “Smith” was a zone leader out on “the Rez” (Navajo Indian reservation) who was fairly new to the mission field, and was the type that would say things like “God sent me here to clean up this mission”, “Obviously I got here just in time”, “Elder, write your sick grandma on your own time, this is the Lord’s time”, etc. All in all, he was a pompous jerk who needed to be taken down a peg or two.

    Elder “Jones” was a missionary close to going home who had served an honoable mission, even if he did lean a little to “the dark side”.

    Elder Smith belived it was his personal mission to reform Elder Jones and mold him in his image. The two did not get along at all for obvious reasons.

    At one particular zone meeting attended by the Mission Prez (a no nonsense kind of person who didn’t take well to brown nosers), the two traded verbal barbs in front of everyone during the meeting. Smith trying to be overly spiritual, and Jones being overly sarcastic just to get a rise out of Smith.

    After the meeting on the way to our vehicles, Smith thought he would show his worth to all of us and the Mission Prez:

    Smith (waiting until the Prez was within ear shot): “Elder Jones, I hear you have problems with me, we could discuss it, or we could take our suit coats off and settle this like men”.

    Jones: “Elder Smith, I don’t need to take my suit coat off to kick your *ss!”

    The Mission Prez started laughing, got in his car and drove off, leaving Elder Smith standing there looking like a fool.

    Classic.

  46. Alamojag, I have spoken with you before at millennialstar. I am so sorry about all of your experiences. My only suggestion is that you pray about following promptings to mention the Church to people. Put it in the Lord’s hands. You have had terrible experiences that I would hope that nobody would have to experience. However, it is God’s work and He knows when and where a person should be introduced to His Gospel. Meanwhile, I am sure that you continue to be a good example of a Latter Day Saint to people. I know that when I was told to ask my parents permission to join the LDS Church that my dad had the example of many LDS coworkers who gave him a very favorable impression of what it means to be LDS.

    I do hope that you wife is well on her way to recovery from her past. I hope that there were unseen angels tending her at her dark hours when those that should have befriended her withheld the comfort and compassion that she sorely needed. God be with both of you.

  47. Floyd the Wonderdog says:

    Alamojag- When I got into the LTM, I found that my cousin was there already and going to the same mission. I was surprised because I thought I was the only active one in the family. He was from Alamogordo. Your comments give me a hint as to why he is now inactive.

    Bro. Alamojag, please don’t let the SOB’s drive a wedge between you and the Lord. I don’t know how many times I dried my tears and went to church because I was doing it for the Lord and not for the bishop. I had made a personal commitment to build Zion when I was converted. That became my mantra during the hard years. Hold on brother, the Lord will make the sacrifice worth your while.

    I have to admit that I didn’t hold my tongue as I probably should have. Once the bishop asked what in Priesthood we could do for a sister whose husband had just died. You know the type of activity. Rake her lawn and pretend that you’ve addressed all her needs. I raised my hand and said that we could talk to her when she came to church rather than shun her because talking to a recent widow bothered us. And that we should continue to greet her every week and she her through our words that we love her. A stinging rebuke because I had told the bishop that no one in the ward had talked to me for weeks after we buried my son. I hugged this sister every week for several months after her husband passed. She and I had an interesting *argument*. She felt that having a child die was worse than losing a spouse. I argued that I thought that loosing a spouse would be worse. We each felt that the other had suffered more.

    Recently one widow in the ward threw her home teacher out and told him not to come back. I told the bishop that I could get in to talk with her. She knows that I can relate to her loss and will talk with me for hours. I can do things in this ward that no one else can do because of what I have been through. How can you use your experiences to build Christ’s kingdom?

  48. Floyd, wow, thanks for the insight and touching story. I so admire people who are able to use their trials to bless others. Your example is wonderful–and really puts the gospel mandate to love others into perspective.

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