Home Teaching, May 2006

Dear Bro. and Sis. Bloggernacle,

Thanks for rearranging your schedules to let us into your home. Ronan just got back from his Montana trip (cough*Brokeback*cough), so we really appreciate getting in to see you on the last day of the month. We don’t care about the statistics, mind you — we’re just honestly glad to share a brief message with you once a month.

LDS.org instructs as follows:

Because the May Liahona and Ensign contain a report of general conference, there is not a designated First Presidency Message or Visiting Teaching Message for May. Home and visiting teachers are encouraged to prayerfully select a message from the proceedings of the conference.

In that spirit, I’ve chosen “The Need For Greater Kindness” by President Gordon B. Hinckley. It’s a powerful and interesting message, and I would like to take a few quotes from it, some completely out of context, as a message.

First, it is interesting to note how much of President Hinckley’s short remarks were directed to issues of racism and diversity. I have rarely been prouder of my religion than to hear the Prophet say, “How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible?”

Second, it is interesting to note the manner in which President Hinckley reinforces the necessity of parents to provide for their homes and their spouses: “I believe that no man can be considered a member in good standing who refuses to work to support his family if he is physically able to do so.” I do not believe that this implicitly results in the reinforcing of a “women should not work outside the home” policy, but that is certainly a permissible reading. What do you think, Bro. and Sis. Nacle?

The centerpiece of President Hinckley’s message is this: “This kind of miracle can happen and will happen when there is kindness, respect, and love. Why do any of us have to be so mean and unkind to others? Why can’t all of us reach out in friendship to everyone about us? Why is there so much bitterness and animosity? It is not a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Why are we mean and unkind, especially in the blog world? What barriers exist?

President Hinckley concludes by citing numerous positive examples of kindness in the Church: the Perpetual Education Fund, humanitarian services, and local levels of service. I would be interested in your thoughts as to how we could add the Bloggernacle to that list.

Thanks again for letting us into your home. Anything we can do to help you guys?


  1. I think President Hinckley’s remarks regarding hatred and animosity are particularly instructive with regards to Kevin’s earlier post today on gay marriage.

  2. john scherer says:

    Where’s the snack. You promised you’d bring a snack.

  3. mullingandmusing says:

    I think President Hinckley’s remarks regarding hatred and animosity are particularly instructive with regards to Kevin’s earlier post today on gay marriage.

    The Church’s position on gay marriage isn’t about hate or animosity, and if members are conversing about this topic with such emotions, then they are clearly in the wrong. But kindness and concern and love do not mean we can change God’s laws.

  4. We get it, mm, we really do.

  5. “But kindness and concern and love do not mean we can change God’s laws.”

    —true, but they are weighty factors in considering how we should change Man’s laws.

  6. mullingandmusing says:

    5. This is a very good point. And yet, Elder Nelson signed that letter a while back (along with dozens of other religious leaders) that said, “We are convinced that this is the only measure that will adequately protect marriage from those who would circumvent the legislative process and force a redefinition of it on the whole of our society.” I find his action (which was in representation of the Church, I believe), in combination with the recent statement timed with what will be happening next week, pretty telling about what our leaders think about how to deal with God’s laws in relation to the laws of the land.

    Sorry for the flurry of comments all at once. I know I’ve said too much here today. (Sorry to annoy you, Ronan.)

  7. mm,

    I think Steve’s comment was intended to invite civil dialogue on Kevin’s post, nothing more. I am just sighing that you seem to see apostasy in every innocent comment. But fire away, I’m just in a mood after a really disappointing Pearl Jam concert last night.

  8. nuff said. this thread ain’t about gay marriage.

  9. I appreciate Steve’s reminder of President Hinckley’s important counsel. It’s interesting to looking at his address through the lense of the SSM discussion (particularly in light of today’s post by Kevin). Personally, I’m still not sure how I come out on the ultimate question regarding SSM. But one thing that has consistently given me serious pause has been the demeanor, attitude and genuine visciousness of many of those fighing SSM.

    Here in Massachusetts we’ve obviously been at the forefront of the battle over SSM. When the MA legislature was considering approval of an amendment to the state constitution to undo the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision requiring the state to recognize SSM, there were some very heated public rallys at the state capital. I certainly was not impressed with the demeanor/attitude/etc. of many in the pro-SSM crowd, but I was particularly disappointed (disgusted even) with the how a very significant number of anti-SSM advocates carried themselves. So much visciousness, so much animosity. And all this from people who for the most part considered themselves devout Christians. I know it’s possible to make reasoned, respectful, even compassionate arguments against SSM, but the vitriol I see from so many SSM opponents often causes me to doubt the merits of their position. There is so much “groupthink”, so much obvious homophobia. Whatever the merits of the anti-SSM position, I wish that Latter-day Saints (and Christians generally) who advocate this position would spend a lot more time and energy focusing on how to make their arguments in a way that is consistent with Christ’s example.

  10. Examples of kindness in the bloggernacle?

    Here’s one that still blows my mind. After finding out that my wife was about to explode from mommy-stress, a member of the ‘nacle paid for her airfare (we’re poor grad students) to have a weekend away. We’ve made some tremendous and very real friends here.

    One more: when I had a conference in Seattle, I flew with some colleagues from my university. After we picked up our bags they went off to their expensive hotel and asked me what I was doing. I said I was staying with a friend.


    Oh, just a pal from the Mormon blogosphere. I’ve met him once before.

    They were flabbergasted that I, the Brit, had friends all over America, and they, the Yanks, didn’t. That speaks to the Mormon community as a whole, but also to this funny little place called the ‘nacle. Me likey.

  11. mullingandmusing says:

    nuff said. this thread ain’t about gay marriage.

    Sorry, Steve….but remember, you were the one who brought it up in comment #1. :)

  12. Another example of kindness:
    A ‘nacle member almost single handedly helped me move my entire life last night. It’s not much of a life, boxes and a bed, but she did it, graciously.

    Reason why it’s hard to be nice to everyone: I don’t like everyone. I try but it doesn’t work. I’m misanthropic sometimes and I’m convinced that it’s not my fault.

  13. mullingandmusing says:

    I am just sighing that you seem to see apostasy in every innocent comment.

    Sorry if I appear that way. But there are two sides to this. I am weary of the common assumption that those who oppose gay marriage are hateful and unkind, and I may have jumped in (too soon, or unnecessarily perhaps) for fear of such rhetoric. Sorry. This is a tough subject all the way around. We all need kindness in this regard, I suppose….

  14. Aaron Brown says:

    Steve Evans, will you gay marry me?

    Aaron B

  15. AB, I wish I knew how to quit you.

  16. D. Fletcher says:

    cough *brokeback takes place in wyoming* cough

  17. Steve Evans says:

    *cough*haven’t seen it yet, feel really badly*cough*

  18. Steve, you really should see Brokeback. I liked it mucho.

    Aaron, will you second wife marry me when they bring back polygamy?

  19. D. Fletcher says:

    cough*don’t you mean “bad,” mr. wannabe a writer?*cough

  20. Steve Evans says:


  21. D. Fletcher says:


  22. Thanks again, brothers, for this heartfelt visit and words of kindness and love inspired by our prophet.

    The bloggernacle is a place of kindness, I think. I feel warm and fuzzy everytime someone says a couple of words to me and acknowledges I exist (my expectations are pretty low). Most people are genuine and helpful. I’m a really gentle person at heart, but when I turn vicious it’s because of one or more of the following reasons: 1) I’m trying to be funny; 2) I feel insecure about something, so I’m lashing back at someone, (or need to feel superior because of my insecurities) or 3) I’m (potentially) embarassed about something in front of someone. Maybe those reasons could be attributed to when people get nasty on the blogs.

    And sorry, D., I kind of fell asleep during Brokeback.

    Anything we can do to help you guys?

    Can you bring over a really tall ladder? The ceiling fans need dusting.

  23. Aaron Brown says:

    Sure, Crystal, but only if you agree to change your middle name to “Meth.”

    Aaron B

  24. D. Fletcher says:

    I’ve gotten a whole new set of friends from the Bloggernacle and other online sites. Someone I knew online from London, and another person from Washington DC have stayed with me in New York, and become real good friends. Heather and Nate Oman are family, as is Julie Sheffield.

    And then, I wouldn’t have really blogged at all if it weren’t for the kindness and smarts of people like Steve and Sumer Evans, Kaimi and Mardell, Kristine and Rosalind and Danithew… and some people who disagree with me have still gone out of their way to be friends (that’s you, John Fowles).

    The list really goes on and on.

    Don’t worry, I’m not going to bear my testimony as to the truthfulness of B&C.

    But it’s nice to have an ear, and good friends, here.

  25. Steve and Ronan, While I appreciate this last minute, last day of the month visit as my virtual home teachers, I appreciate even more the brevity of the format and my ability to kick you guys out at my whim, or to return and read your message and the ensuing comments on my own schedule. Thanks!

  26. jjohnsen says:

    But fire away, I’m just in a mood after a really disappointing Pearl Jam concert last night.

    Is there such thing?

  27. See Kulturblog

  28. Jared E. says:


    Thanks for the virtual hometeaching lesson, my family hasn’t been hometaught in over a year.

  29. jjohnsen says:

    Ah, that is too bad Ronan.

  30. The snack is peaches, once the monkey steals them.

    Kindness . . . when people accept and kindly interact with me, and suspend at least some judgement, when I’m so wierd/odd/mentally ill, etc.

    A kind word, a complement, a hey, how are you doing it’s been awhile, or, I’ve missed you (implying something that I find astonishing; that people actually LIKE me, my presence, and miss it/me when I’m not around), a comment or two on my blog, to let me know that I’m not alone, and that people read and VALUE what I have to say, my perspective and feelings and such.

    Responses to my comments generally astonish me because I’m like, HEY, somebody actually had something they wanted to say to ME, as if I have some sort of valid existence that they want to interact with.

    Barb, in particular, has been VERY VERY VERY kind, and supportive, and WONDERFUL. Annegb has taken me under her wing, as it were, and I hope I’ve been a good listener for her, too, when i can. I’ve enjoyed our phone conversations VERY much, as well as other types.

    But . . . my soul aches because I am SO ALONE here on this earth, and so DIFFERENT from what is sufficient/appropriate/expected to and in the ways of interacting with the world, that I am afraid no one else will ever be my friend, or want to. I am too . . . less than what is wanted or desired or capable, I guess.

    Tea! She has been a godsend, literally, as well. The fact that there are things I’ve posted that have really helped her, and that she’s told me . . . it stuns me that I could be of any use or help to anyone, and yet that is my deepest, deepest desire, which I have many many problems with implementing.

    Mebbe my home teachers will accept me, and maybe even LIKE me . . (dagnabbit, stupid tears . . . sorry I’m so . . . well, being pathetic and needy today . . . read today’s post on my blog and then you might understand . . .) . . . . Anyone up for the challenge and hardship of interacting with me?

    Cause, I could sure use what this home teaching message talks about, because . . . I . . . well . . .

  31. Stephen (Ethesis) has been a wonder, as well. And I’m so so sorry for the long post. Forgive me . . .

  32. I am still waiting for the June visit. Time is running out.


  1. […] In some ways this is ridiculously basic, and yet it is so rarely stated nowadays that it seemed revolutionary just to hear it as I trotted along the Fremont river. An acknowledgement that some forms of gender discrimination are institutional and ever-present seems so out of place with our ecclesiastical rhetoric today. I don’t mean that as a criticism either, as I am aware that the Brethren are aware of the problems of poverty and the role of gender in it (see President Hinckley’s Priesthood session address (helpfully summarized here) for more on that). It just seems like we, in the church, often adopt an “All is well” attitude as regards problems that do not address us directly. This talk denies that sort of complacency. […]

  2. […] As the powers that be have failed to do their hometeaching for the past couple of months (and yes, as your unofficial 2nd counsellor in your BCC elders quorum, I am calling you to repentance, Steve and Ronan), I have taken it upon myself to emulate another section of the Ensign. Or, failing that, I would like to write a series of brief notes, because I don’t have enough material at the moment for one long post. […]

  3. […] Though, I’ve got to admit, any guy who can be Senate Majority Leader and finish his home teaching does set a pretty good example for the rest of us (even Steve and Ronan): But Reid has gone further than any of them. Born in a small mining town in Nevada, Reid now attends services at a ward house a block outside the District of Columbia every Sunday he is in town. He always finishes his home teaching – where members check on a few families to ensure they’re well – and once taught a gospel doctrine class. There’s a copy of the Book of Mormon on his office bookshelf. “He’s always looking after other people,” says his bishop, Michael Seay, the lay leader of his ward. “He’s very much loved by the members.” […]