You never know

Here is a Mormon Channel video that is making the rounds on the Facebook. I don’t usually watch Mormon Channel videos because I don’t usually watch any video unless I think it’s going to be funny, and Mormon Channel videos are not usually supposed to be funny. (This is not to say that they’re never funny, intentionally or otherwise. I just haven’t ever heard of a funny one. No, I do not need links to funny Mormon Channel videos. Try to focus, people!) My life is too short to watch every video that gets shared on Facebook, no matter how inspiring. (I never watch anything on Upworthy. NEVER.) But my husband went to the trouble of sharing this one with me and asked me what I thought, so I decided to watch it (even though I knew it would probably not be funny).

It’s just under nine minutes long, so here’s a summary for those of you who can read faster than you can watch: A woman wakes up in the morning to the sound of her busy household getting ready for the day and a text on the phone from “Kate,” who will be in town on a layover that evening, when they will meet for a fun night out. The woman looks at her long to-do list, makes breakfast for all her kids and they have a family prayer, wherein she asks Heavenly Father that they may be able to do all the things they have to do today. She is getting ready to take the kids to school when her son informs her that he forgot to finish his science project. She sighs and helps him finish his presentation board (in what appears to be record time) and drops them off at school.

Back at home she takes a phone call during which she agrees to take dinner to a family who have just had a new baby and then she is on her way out the door with her toddler to run errands when a friend comes by and asks if she can babysit her child for a couple hours while she goes to a doctor’s appointment. At first the woman tries to beg off, but seeing that her friend is desperate, eventually agrees, reasoning that she has stuff to do around the house anyway.

So she’s doing some stuff around the house (although it isn’t clear to me what exactly she’s trying to do—maybe it’s some kind of Pinterest project?) when she gets a text from her sister, begging her to have lunch with her that day. So she packs up the kids and takes lunch to her sister in the park, where they talk about problems the sister is having with her job, and she offers support and encouragement.

Back at home, the friend is finally back from her doctor’s appointment. Somehow or another all the kids are home and things are busy busy busy when the woman remembers that she FORGOT ALL ABOUT making dinner for the family with the new baby. So she slaps together a casserole and puts it in the oven. She gets another text from Kate saying that her plane has landed; she texts back that she is running a little late, but she got a babysitter and she will be there ASAP. When the timer goes off, she discovers that the casserole is uncooked because she never turned on the oven. (Sounds like something I would do.) So she turns on the oven and sets the timer for another 30 minutes. (Does not sound like something I would do.) Eventually she puts all the kids in the car and delivers the casserole to the grateful new-baby family, apologizing for it being late. Back at home, the babysitter has finally arrived and after giving her last-minute instructions, our heroine is finally out the door. For about one second. Then she comes back inside looking dejected, and we see that she has another text from Kate saying that she had to board the plane and maybe they’ll see each other next time.

So she sends the babysitter home and irritably orders the kids to go to bed, before or after starting to cry (I don’t remember when the tears came, just the fact of their appearance). Her son says, “But we didn’t say prayers!” and she tells him to go ahead and pray (for all the good it will do). So her son says his prayer and thanks Heavenly Father that they were able to get done all the things they needed to do (O BITTER IRONY, the mother is thinking) and also that he was able to win the science fair, etc., blah blah. Then the kids go off to bed and the woman is pensive while a voiceover from Gordon B. Hinckley says this:

Many of you think you are failures. You feel you cannot do well, that with all of your effort it is not sufficient.

We all worry about our performance. We all wish we could do better. But unfortunately we do not realize, we do not often see the results that come of what we do.

While Pres. Hinckley is speaking and the thoughtful music is playing, we see a montage of everything our heroine did today to serve others; we also see what our heroine herself did not—the effect that service had on the lives of her friends and family. (We also see that the friend who had a “doctor’s appointment” was actually having what appears to be a Very Important Conversation with what appears to be her husband; at least I presume he is her husband, since I don’t think we’re expected to believe it was good that our heroine enabled her friend to have a rendezvous in the park with her secret lover.) Because of her sacrifices, many people were blessed.

I would have liked this video very much except for one thing: the moral of the story as Gordon B. Hinckley tells it does not match the story the video tells. It’s true that many people—okay, let’s just say “women,” since Pres. Hinckley’s remarks were taken from his 2003 talk “To the Women of the Church,” and male characters in this video have a combined screen presence time of about one and a half seconds—feel like failures because they do not accomplish everything they set out to do, or they don’t do as well as they’d like. They are fixated on what they haven’t done and don’t realize the good they have done. But I doubt very much our heroine in this video is crying at the end because she feels like a failure. I would bet cash money that she’s crying because she had been looking forward to having a night out with her friend and her plans were spoiled because she bit off more than she could chew. She didn’t fail at anything except the one thing she was supposed to do for herself. (And maybe that Pinterest project. It’s unclear.)

And just as The Giving Tree makes me want to scream, “The boy is a user! He takes everything she has until she’s nothing but a stump and then HE SITS ON HER!”—so this video makes me want to scream, “What’s wrong with ordering a pizza? Or if you absolutely have to make a casserole, why can’t you just tell them to put it in the oven for 30 minutes? Even a woman who’s just had a baby can put a casserole in the oven! Even if she can’t, probably her husband can! Why can’t your sister bring YOU lunch? Furthermore, I don’t believe that a boy who forgets to finish his science project until the very last minute is going to win the science fair! Sorry! Not buying it! Also, when did it stop being rude as crap to leave your friend hanging out at the airport by herself for two hours whilst you masticate what you had no business biting off in the first place?! But I digress!”

Yes, I want to scream all of those things.

It’s also true that service and sacrifice are necessary components of a Christian life. I believe I’m on record as saying that it is more blessed to serve when it is inconvenient. And I’m not necessarily opposed to guilt trips, used judiciously. So why does this video rub me the wrong way? Because it doesn’t tell people to get off their lazy keisters and serve somebody; it speaks to people who are already giving more than their fair share and says, “Thanks for holding up the world. Keep up the good work!” Or, more cynically, “You never know how much good you do for others, so always put your own needs last.”

I’m reminded of a General Conference talk given long ago by Jeffrey R. Holland. I am too lazy to look it up, but I am 98.9% certain it was Elder Holland who told a story about a bishop’s wife who had grown resentful of all the time her husband spent tending to his church responsibilities. The phone was always ringing, and every time it rang, it was some member of the ward who needed something. One evening they were on their way out the door for their first “date night” since he’d been called as bishop—and the phone rang. The bishop looked at his wife and his wife said, “I just know if you answer that phone, our night will be ruined.” The bishop, feeling guilty (about many things, no doubt), answered the phone and surprise, he ended up cancelling their evening out because a ward member was in crisis. The wife’s bitterness continued to grow until one day, much later, the ward member who had called the bishop that night came up to the bishop’s wife and expressed her gratitude for the bishop’s service and the wife’s sacrifice because that night she called she was truly at the end of her rope and the bishop had saved her. And the wife realized how much her sacrifice had blessed another.

To his credit, Elder Holland said that ordinarily he would be in the group telling the bishop, “Don’t answer that phone!” In that case, I can only wonder why, why would Elder Holland tell this story, if not to reinforce the belief certain people have that you should always answer the phone–because if you don’t, something bad might happen. Someone won’t get the help they need, and it will be your fault. It is entirely possible that the bishop was led by the Holy Ghost to answer the phone that night. That may very well be true. But not everything that’s true is useful. If this was a positive experience for this beleaguered couple, I’m happy for them, but I wish they and Elder Holland had cherished it privately amongst themselves and left the rest of us some plausible deniability the next time we wanted to take our neglected spouse out for a date instead of answering the phone. Nobody learns anything from these stories except that you really can’t ever say “no”–because you never know. And that is not a helpful lesson.

Getting back to the Mormon Channel video, though—one wonders where this poor woman’s husband is. Maybe they should have used a different excerpt from Gordon B. Hinckley’s talk for the voiceover.

I see their husbands, and I feel like saying to them: “Wake up. Carry your share of the load. Do you really appreciate your wife? Do you know how much she does? Do you ever compliment her? Do you ever say thanks to her?”

But, you know, maybe the husband travels a lot. Maybe she’s divorced and living off the alimony. Maybe she’s widowed and living off the life insurance. Maybe she’s divorced or widowed and ordinarily works outside the home but not on this particular day of the week, in which case I can only wonder, “Why is everyone bothering her on her day off???”

This post is already far too much ranting to say just one thing: I think a better ending to this video would have shown somebody bringing our heroine a casserole for a change. It certainly looks as though she needs one, doesn’t it? If you know someone like this, please take them a casserole. Metaphorically or literally, as needed. And no, I’m not talking to you people who are already literally taking casseroles to everyone else this week. Just go to the airport already! Geez!


  1. I am glad to know that I am not the only one who hates the book The Giving Tree.

  2. It’s a touching video for a people who have in some ways grown addicted to sentimentality over spirituality. We’ve become obsessed over lamenting our burdens rather than bearing and helping others bear them.

    For a people endowed with power, I often what kind of endowment we’ve received if we can barely roll back our shoulders and go to work against the drudgery of the necessities life.

    Like the feminists suffering in church though, their pain is real and so is that of the woman burdened with Neverending tasks. I just wish we’d look for a better way to live our lives rather than produce modern day Lamentations of the wealthiest most comfortable people in the world’s history.

  3. I remember a GC talk in which the story was told of a young missionary whose parents sacrificed to send him on his mission. When the mission president or GA or whoever it was found out, he made a point of reaching out to this young man’s family. He found them living in a shed and eating nothing but rice every day because they had sold their house and all their belongings to pay for their son’s mission. Instead of segueing into a description of how the ward rallied around them and got their house back or at least sent the RS President to fill out a food order, the speaker praised the heroic devotion of this family to missionary work and held them out as an example of brave sacrifice. All I could think was that they had to have the most clueless Bishop ever.

    I read a dissertation about Southern sorority girls once, and one of the main points the author made was that it wasn’t the rules of behavior set out by the sorority that kept the girls in line and acting like “ladies,” it was the stories the other girls told about the ones who DIDN’T act like ladies. It seems like we do that all the time in the Church. We dare not accuse another to her face of being lazy, uncommitted, selfish, etc., so we tell stories in which someone was and then leave the audience to ponder how they could do better, or maybe use them to measure the egregiousness of our own failure. Worse, we tell stories about someone who wasn’t all of those things and thank heaven for it! They obviously saved a life. Unlike the rest of us lazy, selfish sods. Sadly, I have seen myself do this, and it makes me cringe.

  4. Oh man, I read The Giving Tree to my kids a little while ago and they were just mystified at why I was crying so hard I couldn’t go on.

  5. Oh Rebecca J., thank you for NAILING IT. This was in my newsfeed about a hundred times and I was just fascinated. The words by President Hinckley was the only part that I remotely felt like advocating, but that is such a good point that his words don’t match the reason she was apparently crying. I lived like that for so long, thinking it was the way life had to be. Self care and boundaries are not selfish, saying “I can’t, I have to do something for myself” is so necessary to spiritual and mental and emotional and physical AND ALL KINDS OF HEALTH. My family has suffered in some devastating ways because I didn’t understand that boundaries should not be so fluid that I say yes when “reasonable” says no. This video made me so sad, it seemed to be glorifying this kind of day, or at the least, normalizing it. I would like to advocate for the opposite!

    I thought another friend said it well:

    “What the hell was that? Seriously? I don’t get it. The dad couldn’t order a pizza or heat up a casserole? The babysitter was an hour late? And if the point was that she followed the spirit? I think that following a spirit that tells you you should put everyone else first and appear to be willing even when you’re not available and to neglect family and friends to serve and leaves you so drained that you’re yelling at your kids by the end of the day isn’t my idea of a God centered life. The fruits of the spirit? When I let God lead I find myself feeling I’ve been given strength beyond my own. When I do things because of my fear of appearing selfish. .. it looks like this. When I allow people without boundaries to ask things of me that are well within their own abilities and jump to rescue them I know I’m stepping onto a slippery slope. And when my husband is out of town or not in the picture I can’t imagine ever trying to do what she did in that day. Breaks my heart.”

  6. it's a series of tubes says:

    I would bet cash money that she’s crying because she had been looking forward to having a night out with her friend and her plans were spoiled because she bit off more than she could chew.

    Ding ding ding ding – right you are.

  7. Practicality says:

    Your analysis makes a lot of sense to me–I thought the video was a real head-scratcher. I’ve been pondering why so many of my Facebook friends have felt genuinely touched and validated by this video. I think it just feels better to imagine that all of the things you did today, including that Pinterest project, were totally necessary and valuable. If they weren’t, then the pain of missing out on the things you love and desire is just too much to bear.

    We’re not always very good at offering practical solutions in a culture that values sacrifice for sacrifice’s sake and extra work for extra work’s sake. I recently had an honest-to-goodness conversation with some other LDS women about Relief Society centerpieces in which it was revealed that I was the only one who thought they were a waste of my time and never included them in my lessons. I was shocked that no one else had come to this conclusion. But I was raised by a practical mother, who, on my last visit home, bought a couple of pizzas for the family who had just had a baby.

  8. Thank you! I am glad that I wasn’t the only one who was rubbed the wrong way.
    What bothered me was the lady’s response to her sister, “if you leave, who would help them?!” As if to communicate that if you don’t do it, if you don’t help, no one else will.

  9. I watched it and had similar feelings. I’ve been trying desperately to get people to understand the principles in Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk, “of things that matter most” in which he tells us to slow down. I was asked to teach a RS enrichment night and I challenged the sisters to do less then what they were currently doing. I’m pretty sure it had zero effect as everywhere else both in and out of the church there are messages that we should do more, more, more.

    At the same time I liked the message that we don’t often know the good we do.

  10. This video drove me batty. She took on more and more and more and wasn’t honest when she was saying basically “no problem.” As a married working woman with no kids, I also didn’t enjoy the depiction of the sister. By the way, the working woman isn’t there for charity – it’s a job and if she wants to leave she should do it without guilt.

    Also, The Giving Tree is one of the worst children’s books I’ve ever read.

  11. Bullseye.

    Also, I don’t wanna be the last comment on the thread.

  12. Mormon motherhood, existentialist version: one must imagine Sisyphus happy.

  13. I think I leave the same comment on all of your posts, but I might as well say it again: Rebecca, I love you. Hilarious and insightful, as always. (I’m still chuckling over “And maybe that Pinterest project. It’s unclear” because srsly. What was that.)

  14. So, the kid’s a leech, eh? How utterly feminist.

  15. I finally watched the video for the first time. I don’t generally like emotional pleas, and really don’t like messages that say we should do more, sacrifice more. Because I AM a single mother, and some days I feel like my heart is imploding from the pressure and stress. I have had days I can feel the physical strain, and know my life is being shortened. So it was with reluctance that I decided to take a peek at what is causing all the hullaballoo.

    Frankly, I loved it. I didn’t get the message AT ALL that we are, as women, supposed to just keep sacrificing until we are burned out. What I heard was a message of priority setting. She simply could not do “all that needed to be done.” But, in the end, she did what the Lord wanted her to do. Another day, that might be meeting with her cousin. (Though I’m not sure how a 2-hour layover equates to a “cousin night.” Whatever.) Another day, that might be saying no to the neighbor needing babysitting. Another day, that might mean telling your child to stuff his science fair project. I’ve made all of those decisions both ways before.

    And maybe that’s why I loved it. Because, in my life, it wasn’t about the decisions she made, right or wrong. It was that her sacrifices could stress her out, burn her out, and ruin her life as she dashes from one thing to another. Or her sacrifices could be consecrated to the Lord, the things she did could be in His service, whatever those things are. In the end, she was strengthened and energized by the realization that her sacrifices were not unnoticed, nor unappreciated. HE saw every thing she did.

    Maybe, a few of those times, she should have said no. But whether her choices were right or wrong, she was able to accomplish what the Lord needed her to do.

    Maybe it’s only because I relate. But to me, that message of God’s love is beautiful.

  16. Agree with everything posted by the two Rebeccas.
    And reading the Giving Tree always made me think of the clearcutting of the forests where I grew up. Expending more than is there.

  17. I liked the video. I will admit that I had some of the same thoughts as expressed above, but overall, I thought it was good. I agree the lady should try to do less, but my wife and I both have “big” callings and three active kids and while the idea of doing less appeals to me greatly, the truth is that just saying “I’m going to do less” is much harder than it sounds. And I think that’s the point of the video.

    Put another way, and with apologies to Thoreau, I suppose I could “simplify, simplify, simplify” too if a friend gave me free land to live on, and I had no kids, and I could poach whatever I wanted to eat. As it is, I have a mortgage, kids with homework, and a grocery bill. Not to mention a calling. I could cut all other activities back to zero and still have a busy life just on that, and my “stay at home” wife would be the same.

  18. I was getting all het up about saying “Just order a pizza and have it delivered!” when you went and ruined it all by saying that yourself. I hope you’re happy now!

    Of course, if the family lives outside New York City, the odds are that there isn’t a decent pizza within 1,000 miles. Maybe her friend is flying in from New York, and she could ask her to bring a couple of large pies on the plane.

  19. I felt the same. (Plus why did the babysitter come right when it was time for the cousin to board the plane? I don’t get it).
    The only way I can figure out how to appreciate this video is that on any given day I have more possible good things to do than I can do. Every day I can choose to help my kid learn to read or have a heart to heart talk with a teenager or call a friend or do some sort of service. So EVERY day I have a few things I didn’t get to do. I think I can prioritize better than this woman. Really. I would never have left my cousin at the airport and refuse to show up.
    So if you ignore the specifics of all the things she was doing, and fill in your own blanks. At the end of the day, are you ever disappointed that something important didn’t get done? Like I said, I think I prioritize better than that woman, but still there are times I think I should have spent more time with my daughter or something but I didn’t get around to it.

  20. I think it is a bad sign that so many of my friends say on Facebook they find this video validating. In a way it’s easier (because more familiar) to keep over committing than to protect some appropriate time and energy for ones own projects. We need to learn to do the more difficult thing. If the character had been allowed herself to value what she wanted for herself, she may have been able to see solutions like dropping off an uncooked casserole so she could make it to the airport. And give better career advice to a sister who needs to get a less toxic job and be an equal partner in a sister relationship.

  21. I liked the video, but noticed different things than what is being discussed. I saw a mother that has a million different things thrown at her by a lot of different people. She can’t complete one task without being interrupted by someone needing her attention. Meanwhile her daughter is being manipulative at the dinner table. I for one never fall for the picky eater trick, but children have all the time in the world to probe parental weaknesses and exploit them. I can relate to that. The house is messy and the kids are fighting. Yet she did end up touching lives that day.Yup that happens to me. It is not always easy though to discern when you should help and when you should say “no”. Both are important. Perhaps a sequel Mormon Message can have her learn that.

    I agree that children should be accountable for their own school projects. However in times past my children have been required to do science fair projects with ridiculous criteria that were well beyond their ability to do without heavy parental involvement. So I won’t judge that poor fictional woman on that.

  22. I appreciate this perspective. All I could think as I watched it is how few members of our church can relate to it. She doesn’t work, drives a nice car, along with so many first world problems. Can’t we make a video that speaks to the members we have in South America? Even Europe? I also don’t love the portrayal of her sister. She is made to look very worldly, selfish and self absorbed ‘working woman’. She even cuts her sister off as she is complaining. So when I look at the women around me, most of us don’t live that way. This kind of video makes us feel guilty if we work, are single, etc. If not guilty, than maybe a little misunderstood. I would just love a video that I feel relates to me.

  23. “So, the kid’s a leech, eh? How utterly feminist.”

    Not feminist. Just the truth!

    Seriously, I used to enjoy The Giving Tree as much as the next person. From a certain perspective, it is a very touching story. Until you realize that the tree is you. Then you can never look at it the same way again.

    I really think this could have been a great video if it had actually shown the mother falling short of something BESIDES the one “selfish” thing on her to-do list–and showing that it was okay: it didn’t make her a failure, and she did more good that day than she gave herself credit for. Every mother has had one of those days (or a hundred of those days) where everything seems to go wrong, and if you want to show one of those where she is utterly disappointed in EVERYTHING, please have the feel-good message be something besides “you are responsible for everyone else’s happiness. Your tears fertilize others’ fields.” That doesn’t feel good.

  24. I just came to gush over the last line of you comment, but it’s showing here different than the one I got in my email. I liked your original ending better, “…please have the feel-good message be something besides “if you had slowed down for just a minute, the whole world would definitely have fallen apart.” That doesn’t feel good.”

    That just summed it up so perfectly for me.

  25. Great commentary, Rebecca J. I particularly like what you said about the story Elder Holland told. Like you said, not everything that’s true is useful, meaning that the types of stories that get told by GAs pretty much never send the message that it’s acceptable to *not* give or sacrifice a little more (or a lot more) in the service of a calling.

  26. Maybe this is a little off topic, but what if in The Giving Tree, we are not the tree? What if we are the boy, and the Tree represents our Heavenly Parents, or the Savior?

    Back on topic– I still like the video, but I absolutely see where the OP is coming from. I imagine the RS president calling down the list of people to help bring food after the original person who volunteered had an unexpected emergency and couldnt., and no one answering, people saying no, etc., and having this sister be the last resort. If it were me who forgot to turn the oven on, and that has definitely happened to me before, I probably wouldn’t have been calm enough to think to ask them to heat it themselves. I know a lot of us bite off more than we can chew, and sometimes it’s absolutely best to say no, but sometimes it is best to say yes, and the Lord helped them sort it out that day. I think on another day, He might’ve given different answers. I think it could be good to have a follow-up video that helps us remember that those who serve also need to receive service from time to time. In the meantime, its nice to be reminded that the service we all give matters even if it’s not immediately apparent to us.

  27. Kevin Barney says:

    I’ve never really understood the whole casserole thing. I like your “what’s wrong with ordering a pizza,” but with a twist–why should someone else in the ward even have to do that? If my wife had just had a baby, I would be perfectly capable of ordering a pizza myself. We have never wanted to put someone out to bring us a meal, when we have still had the capacity to feed ourselves.

  28. Kevin, it has nothing to do with the food. It’s all about getting to see the baby before everyone else.

  29. That’s funny, Villate.

    Kevin, food is a way for many people to show love and support to others. Are there better ways to show love and support? Perhaps sometimes, perhaps often, but for many people it is a positive and widely understood way to build community and help new parents socially and emotionally through the tiring ordeal they’ve been through and the tiring ordeal they’re going through.

    So, casseroles (or soups, a plate of cookies, etc.)? If you understand them as an expression of love and support, they might make more sense.

  30. Kevin Barney says:

    That is a helpful perspective, Amy T.

  31. But I wonder about all this talk about casseroles. Seriously, do people still make casseroles?

  32. And, another comment, this one about the over-busy woman in the film and original post.

    A couple of years ago I was working with someone on a project — a lawyer and author — and must have sounded frantic at some point, because when she packed up a box of books to send me for the project, she tucked in a well-worn little book called Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much.

    It’s been at my bedside ever since. I don’t read it much anymore, just leave it there as a reminder, and should probably pass it along to someone else, but it was very helpful in breaking the “busy” cycle so I could discover the reasons for the busyness and start to heal and rest and refocus my energies.

  33. I spent a good deal of time wondering why in the world someone would call her and ask her to bring a meal to someone THAT VERY DAY. It’s not polite, it’s inconvenient, and I was super bugged about it.

    Also….she had plans that night. We need to learn how to say, “No,” when we mean it! One of the great lessons I’ve learned as I’ve aged is that there is freedom in the honesty of saying, “No.” It’s also opened up a more honest relationship with my friends and family members, because they can always expect that when I say, “Yes,” they know that I REALLY MEAN IT. The woman had something on her calendar for that evening. Why can’t we just say, “Tonight is booked up for me, I’m sorry, I can’t.” ?????

    I’d also add in here that I find that saying, “I’m sorry, I can’t,” does not have to exclusively refer to a calendar conflict. One of my favorite quotes from Chieko Okazaki:

    “Many Mormon women do not have clear boundaries for themselves. They feel a sense of confusion about who they are, because many competing voices lay claim to them and they try to accommodate them all. For example, when I became a member of the Relief Society general presidency, I was appalled at how many women were tormented by guilt about their responsibilities as mothers. . . . .It is a strength for women to be able to cross their own boundaries easily when they are meeting the needs of their children and serving others, but it is a great disadvantage when they feel every call for service as an imperative which they are obligated to meet. Remember, a boundary has “yes” on one side and “no” on the other. A woman who never feels that she can say “no” is lacking an important element of personal identity and, hence, personal safety.”

  34. I like Pres. Hinckley’s quote. They kinda ruined it for me with this video.

    Jacky – thanks for sharing that from Chieko Okazaki. It’s golden.

  35. I have considered that The Giving Tree is a better analogy if Tree=God. But I think it’s not an accident that the tree is a “she.” I wonder how people would have responded to the story if the genders had been reversed.

    Similarly, I wonder how it would be if this video told the story of a man who wakes up to the sounds of his busy household and a text from a friend he hasn’t seen in a long time, confirming that they are going to get together during the friend’s 2-hour layover. Okay, I know men never make plans to socialize with each other. Maybe they’re going to play video games. I don’t know. Anyway, the man gets his kids ready for school, helping the son finish his science project at the last minute, and arrives at work to tackle his long to-do list. Over the course of the day, his coworkers interrupt him to ask him for help with their projects or to add more urgent business to his in box that has nothing to do with anything he had on his agenda. Also, he agrees to help a ward member move after work. Because why not? After work, he picks the kids up from wherever they’ve been after school and feeds them dinner (where’s his wife? out of town? dead? never mind) and since the sitter he’s arranged for hasn’t shown up yet, he takes them with him to help the ward member move. The ward member hasn’t finished packing but asks the man to go pick up some more boxes. Meanwhile his friend’s plane has landed. The man brings the boxes back to the moving site, after fighting traffic, and is asked if he can stay a little longer to move some furniture into the truck. Seeing that there aren’t many people there to help, he agrees. Finally, he is able to leave the kids home with the sitter and meet his buddy. But of course it is too late. He doesn’t cry because he’s just not the type, but he’s clearly not in a good mood either. But he and the kids have a prayer and then Gordon B. Hinckley assures him he is not a failure–which is great because that’s EXACTLY how he was feeling, and what a relief to know that he actually did some good that day.

    That would be a great video, but even better might be a video featuring people with real problems.

  36. This is one of many messages. It can’t cover every aspect of how to be a mom. So while I don’t disagree with the thoughtful OP and many comments, it sounds to my ears like you want lime chocolate when this was orange chocolate. Both are very good, and you may have a different flavor preference, but it is not like they are handing you a poop pie; it is still chocolate, just a different kind.

    What I think this message does extraordinarily well is get away from the ideal of a perfectly clean home like we see in so many Ensign articles. It is clearly NOT

    No, this is gritty and real. And rings very true from my life. Balance is something we strive for, not something that is going to happen every day (even if it is scheduled). Christ set a great example for us by attending to his own needs and sleeping on the boat. But when his friends begged for deliverance from the storm, he got up and made a casserole.

  37. Naismith, love your thoughts :)

  38. My theory is that she is a single mom whose sole source of income is Etsy. It explains the Pinterest-y thing.

  39. It’s easier to understand the motivations behind the video when you realize the mother is being seen through the eyes of the praying son. It’s an idealized representation of how men remember their selfless and long-suffering mothers. It’s made to reflect a man’s per selective of how good women give of themselves, which is why it seems so tone deaf for women.

  40. Ahem: perspective.

  41. There is a demographic that this video was made for. If you did not relate to it, then you don’t need to worry about it. Please understand that a lot of women did relate to it. It actually depicted the lives of a lot of women I know quite well, including myself once upon a time. If you are not the target audience, then count your blessings and move along.

  42. The problem is that someone who is in that particular demographic is on their last nerve when they get the message that it’s right and it’s important that they continue on to their breaking point.

    Then what happens? Is it a child who gets attacked physically or verbally because the neighbor needed a casserole? Or is it the mother who ends up on a mood elevator propping up her self-esteem because she can’t say “no”? Or is it a family that has to go on when the overwhelmed driver lost control of a car? Or is it the husband who has to figure out child care while mommy is in the hospital physically or mentally broken down?

    It’s not the people who can recognize the problems with this message and object to it that will pay the price. It’s the demographic it will speak to who can’t recognize it to their own detriment. There’s a name for it: scrupulosity.

  43. There are several comments here that imply that the problems this woman in the video faced aren’t real because she doesn’t have to worry about food, shelter or health. But that doesn’t make her (and our) problems “unreal.” Our challenges are relative to our circumstances. We can always be grateful that we’re not having to worry about food, shelter and health, but that doesn’t make our current problems go away.

    I am not a woman, but I imagine that there are women like this one who have many demands made upon them (the day in this woman’s life may be a bit of a caricature, but life can feel that way sometimes). The stress is real, regardless.

    And for those who prefer the video target a different demographic, couldn’t any video face that same criticism? If the video had been about your preferred demographic, then someone else complains it wasn’t about their favorite, and so on . . .

  44. Mary Ann:
    Making a film for a world wide church that meets a very small demographic is my problem. Thank you for telling me that I don’t need to ‘worry about it’. Worry about what? I appreciate that you live in the small group of Mormons that drive kids to soccer and worry about blog posts. What I am saying is that ignoring the fact that a majority of the members don’t live in (fill in your states name) doesn’t change the fact that films like that generalize the members and women of this church. We are the members of this church too, and I feel we should be represented in the media that the church puts out for all to see. Maybe those who can’t see how we ‘don’t relate’ should visit a branch outside of their own (maybe just in another state), not tell us to ‘count our blessings’ and have some Christlike compassion.

  45. Naismith,

    I think you are right that the best thing about the video and I think what makes it resonate for so many is that it is so realistic in its depiction of what it is like having multiple young children. It is IS nice to see a move away from the idealized. I find it powerful for that reason.

    Like others I do wish that power had been used for another purpose besides validating an unsustainable rate of “sacrifice” in the face of what were clearly boundary testing moments.

    That same movie with the Chieko Okasaki quote about boundaries would be awesome. In fact someone needs to just hash that together. It would also have been nice if she would have been shown reaching out the woman who left her daughter to say, “Hey can you do a favor for me and drop this casserole off at the Jones'” and ends with a shot showing her meeting her cousin, laughing and happy while the rest of the good she did that day plays on. Then its a message about community and helping everyone meet their needs. What is more Mormon than that?

  46. Oh and as I guy I was a bit off-put by the depiction of a new father who is clearly in fine mental, physical and emotional condition but can’t seem to solve a dinner for two for his new family. Seriously, dude you just had a kid you better get ready to step it up.

  47. How good is it to be able to discuss something like this! I’m new at this–I wish I had a place to discuss honestly things like this without being labeled “critical” or “cynical.” The visuals DO matter. I’m a recovering co-dependent & some visuals and stories can really set co-dependents into an over-serving, self-denying (unhealthy!) frenzy. I get the message of inconvenient, ordinary service blessing lives–AND there needs to be a video with the mom saying “no” a couple of times and having some energy at the end of the day! In my experience, some of the faitigue from self-less service comes from over-serving in a way that is not respectful of self, but plays on self-doubt and guilt. I also agree the the Optics of Church videos need to include more people from many backgrounds. On my mission many years ago I used to show Church films of rich people to poor Cuban immigrants and it didnt work as well as a thoughtful presentation might have. I wish it were acceptable to give feedback to leaders on things like this—do any of the General Authorities have a blog where they invite feedback??

  48. “But I wonder about all this talk about casseroles. Seriously, do people still make casseroles?”
    And I’m wondering in what universe a casserole cooks in 30 minutes as opposed to 2-3 hours. Are US casseroles so very different to British casseroles? Are they still casseroles?

    Also am I the only person wondering if she really wanted to go and meet her cousin, or if it was just another thing on her list of things to do for other people? The one that didn’t get done even though it was the one thing preplanned. Dashing out to an airport for 2 hours isn’t my idea of a fun night out, but then I’d choose the fun night in with a book every time!

  49. I’ve been feeling the same frustrations as the author of the article about the horrible interpretation of President Hinkley’s quote. I know a woman who lived her life in that manner and ended up with mental illness that led to suicide. Glorifying this lifestyle is not okay. It is mentally irresponsible to live in this way. Why not show a mother who taught her children unselfishness by shrugging her shoulders when the child wouldn’t eat eggs and reply, “oh sweetie, I guess there will always be lunch in a few hours, hope you won’t be too hungry” or replying to the son, “how frustrating for you, that happens to me sometimes. I know you will figure something out.” And then continuing to see her make smart, mentally healthy choices concerning her day. Then see the children learn and grow. The kid wins first place on a project mom did? Disgusting. This is teaching false pride, arrogance and entitlement. It’s the small smart acts of smart love that President Hinkley is telling us that matter not these poor, put upon, guilt ridden actions. Please do not live your life this way. Give service because you want to, not because you feel you should. That is how to practice pure charity and Christ-like love.

  50. Mike Polizzotto says:

    Without wishing to invalidate anyone else’s experience with or reaction to this video, because many of your comments have been thought-provoking and enlightening, I want to correct one what I perceive to be a significant inaccuracy in the way the video was described and apparently heard. When praying, the boy does not “thank Heavenly Father that they were able to get done all the things they needed to do”. What he says is, “thank Thee that we could get all the things done that you needed us to do today”. It is that comment that causes the heroine to re-frame what happened to her during the day. For me, it was pondering that comment that was the message of the video.

  51. The whole video would have had an entirely different and devastatingly effective effect if the voiceover had been a Cheiko Okazaki quote, pulled from Hawkgrrrl’s post at W&T:

    “Many Mormon women do not have clear boundaries for themselves. They feel a sense of confusion about who they are, because many competing voices lay claim to them and they try to accommodate them all. For example, when I became a member of the Relief Society general presidency, I was appalled at how many women were tormented by guilt about their responsibilities as mothers. They seemed unable to see a boundary between themselves and their children. . . .

    It is a strength for women to be able to cross their own boundaries easily when they are meeting the needs of their children and serving others, but it is a great disadvantage when they feel every call for service as an imperative which they are obligated to meet. Remember, a boundary has “yes” on one side and “no” on the other. A woman who never feels that she can say “no” is lacking an important element of personal identity and, hence, personal safety.”

    I could barely watch it. It was too close, too hard, too familiar. Near panic-inducing. You cannot do that day after day after day and not break. I felt her. That’s not living a disciples life, it’s being the damn Giving Tree until you’re dead.

  52. it's a series of tubes says:

    Oh and as I guy I was a bit off-put by the depiction of a new father who is clearly in fine mental, physical and emotional condition but can’t seem to solve a dinner for two for his new family. Seriously, dude you just had a kid you better get ready to step it up.

    Dang straight.

  53. I think the video would have been fine had it ended with the woman sitting quietly alone at the end of a busy day wondering “have I done any good in the world today?” What made it fall apart for me was that the one thing she needed to boost her own spirits — the thing she had been looking forward to for however long (she’d put it on her calendar! with a big ol’ smiley face! and she woke up with a smile realizing that today was the day!) — was the one thing she hadn’t been able to do. That prayer thanked God that they’d been able to do everything he needed them to do … which left me with the message that what God needed didn’t include blessing this woman with a simple thing that was very important to her. That’s a very different message from the voiceover.

  54. I thought the video, while not perfect was a refreshing change from the content that the church often puts out. I think the church deserves a good pat on the back for producing a piece of longer video content that got me to watch it all the way to the end.

    However, in the future I would like to see a conceptually similar video from a mans perspective.

  55. I am a forgetful, easily frazzled SAHM with three kids and an absent husband (deployment) so I totally feel like the target audience for this video. I can completely relate to everything in it. I tend to give in too easily to my father-deprived kids, which I know is not good for them, but I feel guilty about their little hearts being broken every time we move or send their dad off. I have a hard time saying no to people even when I should. I have a tendency towards self-sacrifice that I know is unhealthy. I forgot to turn on the oven once when we were feeding the missionaries and so we had to sit there for 45 minutes while dinner baked. So yeah, that lady is me. And I really really didn’t like the video.

    With that kind of emotionally fraught day, having someone say, “It’s okay. We know you’re trying your hardest. Look at the people you helped!” isn’t going to make it better. I know how much you need to have those moments that just make you happy. I know the kind of deep disappointment and regret she will experience because of course she will be able to look back and see how she could have done things differently. She is going to feel even more alone and like less of a person because she is so wrapped up in the needs of others and was unable to escape that for just two hours. The solution for that is not a comforting quote!

    Comforting messages are comforting and the woman’s struggles were so relatable and it was refreshing to see someone human who didn’t have it all together. So I totally understand why it was so meaningful for so many women. But I’m part of a very strong support system with the military and so the contrast between what they offer and what this offers was pretty striking.
    This video really illustrates the inability that Mormons have to address those kind of emotional needs in a healthy way. The message could have been “Let’s talk about support systems and how we can learn to feel comfortable with putting our own needs first!” Instead, we get “You should be happy about how this worked out for other people!” It has always been amazing to me after I talk about my own experiences with anxiety and depression at church, how many people eagerly seek me out and share how they have felt so alone. There is this deep need we have for openness about these issues because there are so many people who are struggling, but believe that if they just try harder and pray harder they can be happy like everyone else. This video reinforces that. She never shares her struggles with anyone and even when she tries, she can’t. But her son’s prayer helps her realize that everything is okay. The end.

    It was a horrible way to conclude. There should have been a message at the end saying, “If you are struggling with finding balance in your life, need help, or just need someone to talk, the Relief Society is here for you. Please call our 24-hour line at 888-888-8888 or visit our website where you will find resources and a forum where you will find sisters who understand what you are going through and can help you develop the tools you need.” Because the largest women’s organization in the world should totally have something like that!

  56. “The boy is a user! He takes everything she has until she’s nothing but a stump and then HE SITS ON HER!”

    …and the tree was happy.

  57. JM, I apologize for being short in my comment. I was highly disappointed that this blog chose to attack a video that accurately depicts very painfully many situations that women I know face. And guess what, *I* was facing those situations in (gasp) different wards in different states in the USA. For the past few months that I’ve become aware of the blogosphere, I’ve heard constant whining that the brethren are not in touch with the lives of everyday sisters. Then this video comes out, and, wow, this depicts in PTSD-inducing detail the trauma of attempting to live the gospel in a needy area with very low financial resources. What’s the response? “How unrealistic.” “What idiot makes casseroles?” “Doesn’t she know how to say no?” And this, from people who have been attempting to convince me that I need MORE responsibility in the church, and my life would be improved by marching on church HQ.

    Here’s a comment I posted elsewhere, to give you a little more background in why I said what I did: “I’ve definitely lived in urban wards where EVERYONE is struggling. To suggest that one woman’s life is difficult and therefore she should not be expected to serve runs completely contrary to what this church is about. The people who provide meals to the young couples? More than not, people who know how difficult it is to have the energy to make a meal when you’re recovering from a c-section and have zero family in town to help. You desperately need someone to watch a young child so you can attend a doctor’s appt that you’re nervous about? The person who “gets it” is someone who has been in the same predicament — THAT’s why the main woman said yes. If you’ve lived in wards full of apartment complexes with families struggling, you understand that that woman’s compassionate service leader who was calling her was probably in a very similar financial/social situation. Our culture is such that we do not ask for help easily, which means when help is requested, you answer the call. In wards where half the people are on government assistance, help is required a LOT. This video reflects the reality of a lot of people in the church — it is for THOSE people that this video was created.” Oh and the casserole? It was probably made of condensed soup, boiled chicken, and a few other ingredients that total less than $5, and yes, they can be cooked in 30 minutes. They are cheap and are often the go-to meal for young couples in urban USA wards who get a lot of their food from Medicaid and WIC because “getting a pizza” and “ordering chinese food” doesn’t exactly work when you’re living off student loans. It’s a little less embarrassing than offering another young couple in your exact same financial situation a meal made of 50-cent boxed mac and cheese.

  58. “I’ve heard constant whining that the brethren are not in touch with the lives of everyday sisters”

    I would submit to you that there is no man, save Jesus, who is not at least a little out of touch with the lives of everyday sisters.*

    *a man wrote this comment.

  59. To me, discipleship is about “wear[ing] out our lives” in service to God: bringing to light the truth, and even serving. Some time ago, I prayed to know what to do with my life. I considered many careers. In the end, the only answer that came was to be a disciple. I’m not always very good at it. I lose my temper, I get frustrated and weary. With all the things that have happened to me over the past ten years, and my attempts to deal with it as gracefully and charitably as possible, I have had ample opportunities to “say no,” “make time for myself,” “set boundaries.”

    It is true, that such skills are vital to have. We must be able to learn to not run faster than we are able. We must have the skill of saying no and using our resources wisely, so we are capable of doing those things when we are commanded. But, hand in hand, we are also promised that we will “run and not be weary,” and that in the power of the Lord we will be able to all the things He commands us.

    When we consecrate all we do and all we are to Him, we must also learn to trust Him that He will use us wisely, and learn to listen to the Spirit so we can be guided by His commandments. He may command us not to help. But the message I got from this was not one of codependency. It was one of reliance on the Savior, and consecrating our days to His work, letting go the things we are not commanded to do when we must.

    Then, we will be healed in all ways.

  60. I loved the video, and my wife – who deeply identifies with it – loved it even more.

    Mary Ann – Loved your remarks. Thank you for your contribution.

  61. JT, stop commenting on blog posts and go make your wife a gosh dang casserole!

  62. The difference in reactions to the video are so stark, I wonder if there is a personality divide here. One group takes comfort and strength from external validation (the message of the video); the other takes a more cognitive approach–the woman in the video should have delegated responsibilities and taken better care of her own needs. Reminds me of the “thinking” vs “feeling” category of the Myers-Briggs.

    The important thing is that neither approach is inherently wrong. Problems only arise when people assume that everyone responds (or should respond) to situations in the same way. Luckily that never happens in the Church.

  63. Mary Ann – Thank you for your comment. One of my favorite parts of online conversations is getting to be able to vent, share, and express points of view and pain freely. I fully admit I watched the video through the lens of my life.

    And I can’t honestly say I have experienced what you have. I have served in Relief Society Presidencies when we all we were doing was popping out babies and setting up for funerals. It seemed like all we did was run food places, but it was also during that time that a friend taught me the value of balance, she pointed out that even the Savior took time for himself to reflect, regroup and pray. I have ever been grateful for her Christ focused insight. As I reflect now on the video and add your comments I see a new way to serve. Thank you for that.

    For the record I do serve, watch friends animals/kids, take meals, read student papers etc. I also have no interest of marching on Church HQ, I do have some desires for our cultural community but I know I can only change the world I live in.

  64. What bothered me most about the video is that yes this is exactly how much of the church in North America lives. It’s how I have lived (you don’t have to be a woman to identify with this lifestyle) and its how my wife has lived. I am a bishop with 5 kids trying my hardest to help my family and everyone in my ward whenever they could possibly need it.
    I have discovered a couple of things about this lifestyle.
    1. It’s unsustainable- I have had to deal with stress, exhaustion, and depression trying to be there for everyone whenever they needed it.
    2. It isn’t always doing good, many times it encourages dependency and didn’t fulfill peoples real needs. I found that in many ways I was actually causing damage to people always being there whenever anybody needed it. This isn’t always the case but sometimes it is.

    I second the notion that that father really should have been able to take care of dinner himself. My wife is going to have our sixth child while I am still bishop and am not going to have the ward take care of me. I tell my wife to help our kids less with their homework, and no way in heck do our kids get the option of not eating what is prepared.

    3. It’s massively guilt inducing to tell people no, when sometimes that is actually completely the right decision. I have been trying to take a step back from people for their own good and have felt very guilty about it. It’s even worse when the people who are dependent on you (not in a healthy way) get mad at you because of it.
    4. I don’t get the sense that this is the way that Christ lived. He lived his life doing good, but it was not hectic, at least from what I can tell. I get the sense in Luke 10:41- that he is telling Martha to take a step back from being “careful, and troubled about many things”
    5. There are definitely some worthwhile things to do to serve others, but you have to be discerning and careful as to what is useful and good and what is not, you can’t do everything

    I understand it is hard to do less, but as a Bishop and father of five (with another one on the way) I have strived to do exactly like that. I have felt my health return to me, a sleep disorder healed, depression lifted, strength coming back, my family is stronger. It is also been better for the ward. I have tried to teach people how to be more independent, and how to follow my example in doing less and live more peacefully and purposefully. People have become less dependent on me and while it is hard for them, it is exactly what they need. Others have stepped up more in the ward, and have served more purposefully.

    It is good to be engaged in good work but it is vital to find the balance. I’m worried that messages like this undo what I’m trying to teach the ward, and what I’m trying to learn myself.

  65. “Then, we will be healed in all ways.”

    No. I appreciate the rest of your comment and I’m genuinely happy for the experiences you had that led to healing, but this is the kind of message that kept me from seeking professional help when I was experiencing depression. All I could feel was numbness and dread and I blamed myself for my inability to feel the Spirit. I believe in the healing power of the atonement, but depression and anxiety and other mental health issues are complicated and it is so important that we address them.

  66. I understand the problems with the video, having had them pointed out to me in detail by a number of people, including in the original post.

    The comments are valuable in how they show people’s feelings in response to this depiction. The thing that makes me uncomfortable about many of the comments, though, is an undercurrent of criticizing the lady in the video — how she managed her time, her choices in parenting her kids (helping glue the pieces of paper onto the posterboard for the science fair project, letting her daughter eat cereal instead of the eggs she prepared, etc.), her decision to help her friend who needed to see a doctor by watching her daughter who probably didn’t need to sit through her mom’s cancer diagnosis and heartbroken discussion with her husband in the park afterwards, her lack of logical decisionmaking when she forgot to turn the oven on and then delayed everything while she baked the casserole instead of bringing the uncooked casserole to the family with the new baby, etc. Imagining her as a real person instead of a character in a short film, perhaps as a struggling sister in our own ward’s relief society, I don’t think a good approach to the situation would be to criticize her handling of these things.

    I agree that for this particular video, the Chieko Okasaki quote would have been absolutely perfect and would have turned this into an object lesson about learning how to — and becoming comfortable within our culture — say no at times when asked to do things that don’t fit into one’s plans for the day or that would interrupt much-needed “me” time with a visiting cousin, etc.

    I really like the President Hinckley quote but agree that it did not correspond to what was being depicted in the video.

    I agree that this video successfully highlights and depicts the frazzled life and day of many LDS women, particularly North American LDS women in the lower to middle class. And, as such, it is taken by many as validating and uplifting. I actually found it pretty touching on first viewing whereas many of my friends were nauseated by it. Though it was successful on that level, it was unsuccessful for many because it seemed to objectify or glorify LDS women allowing themselves to be a doormat that is walked all over by everyone else and whose own personal and very real needs are never met.

    I thought Doug’s comment (9:26 am) was very valuable. I learned a lot from Mossbloom’s comment (8:03 am) and from many that were similar. Since I enjoyed the video on first viewing (likely because I was viewing it through the boy’s eyes, as mentioned by reaneypark in the facetious but actually poignant comment at 8:32 pm above — “an idealized representation of how men remember their selfless and long-suffering mothers. It’s made to reflect a man’s perspective of how good women give of themselves, which is why it seems so tone deaf for women” — sort of like every Mother’s Day talk ever given by a man in a Mormon Sacrament meeting), reading those negative reactions to it really broadened my perspective. I thought SilverRain’s comment (8:59 am) was good and true.

    Ardis’ comment at 7:08 am, I feel, probably perfectly expresses my view after initially enjoying it and then backtracking after seeing the real difficulty many people had with it.

    Mary Ann’s comments, though sincere, took an unnecessary defensive/combative tone, seeming not to comprehend that the people she is talking to here are faithful Latter-day Saints who are left scratching their heads at this video and not the anti-Mormon horde that her comments imply. For one thing, she seems ignorant of the fact that BCC is not Ordain Women.

  67. John F. – yes, my tone was combative. BCC is more sensible and even-handed, yet I was seeing the same reactions that I had seen at more strongly biased blogs. I wholeheartedly agree that this woman is on a path towards depression and is getting burned out. How do I know? Personal experience. This video was not an idealized portrait of what life should be. It was a reflection of horribly stressful situations that many people are actively living in (hopefully only temporarily), and those people needed to know the efforts they are making are leading to something worthwhile (even if it doesn’t result in what they were expecting). I didn’t even like this video, but I was angry that people couldn’t comprehend or respect the fact that people like the woman in this video exist.

  68. Despite my flip comment, I have deep feelings about this video, and not the time to order and express them. Thank you, john f. You mentioned all the ones that resonated with me, and some that didn’t, and in a way that I can be charitable with points of view that don’t match mine, and learn from them. The one I have liked best, though, was JTB at 9:58, very dense with good ideas, well expressed, organized and precisely on point for those of us who are trying to manage depression with very little assist from videos like this.

    Mary Ann, your words just hurt. I can’t relate at all, not if I want to maintain my sanity.

  69. You can have one or the other: complaining about Millennials raised by helicopter moms, or encouraging helicopter Mommery. You can’t have both.

  70. Mary Ann: “Oh and the casserole? It was probably made of condensed soup, boiled chicken, and a few other ingredients that total less than $5, and yes, they can be cooked in 30 minutes. They are cheap and are often the go-to meal for young couples”
    Thanks, that makes sense. I think we’d call it a ‘bake’. And I’m totally with you on the cost of ordering in.

    Ardis: “she’d put it on her calendar! with a big ol’ smiley face!” Not a reminder to smile then, or to be happy about it. Smiling is not my forte, as my sister will attest.

    I have some sympathy with the frazzled main character. I’m no multi-tasker. Interuptions often leave me thinking I’ve actually done the thing I was my way to do. I am also a big believer in keeping things sustainable. So, hoping this was intended to represent a atypical day.

  71. I appreciate Mary Ann’s comments. It is difficult to always distinguish between different blogs when they tend to have similar criticisms.
    I can’t remember exactly what comments I have read on which blogs. But I can identify with Mary Ann’s feeling that when people say they should have ordered a pizza, I wonder what kind of upper middle class planet do they live on to suggest that? If my family only orders a pizza once a month as our eating out budget, why would I casually order a pizza instead of making the dinner for someone else? I also know that if my ward members were in the hospital, they probably have medical bills and don’t have as much money for food. How could they order their own pizza or chinese food? Also, I wonder what kind of charmed life people lead where the birth of their babies never involve life & death circumstances (baby’s heart rate, baby in wrong position, should we do c-section, newborn not eating, newborn whisked away, etc.). I also wonder where it is that parents of a newborn have never been up all night for labor and up all night the next night because they are clueless about newborn care, etc. I admit that I never needed meals but that was because my mom came and took care of me.
    Of course I think the woman in the video should have said no about the dinner. But, almost every woman watching this has on occasion said yes when she should have said no. This video might be validating to them who make the occasional mistake when they were trying to do a little too much, but we are all imperfect.
    While my first reaction was to criticize the woman in this video and all of her decisions, I now think it is anti-feminist to be so judgy. I no longer car about the specifics of her decisions. It is normal to get to the end of the day and sometimes be discouraged (obviously if you are always discouraged, maybe you need help making changes). Many women are in circumstances beyond their control that mean they are responsible for too many things and they still see others in need and want to help. These women need to know that the good they are doing matters. I trust that the women who cried and felt like someone understood them deserve that.
    I am a SAHM who didn’t cry and didn’t identify with the cousin stand up thing. However, my days are like this!!!!!! Every day of my life includes me stepping up to help. Every day! This morning at 6:55 am I drove 5 kids from seminary to school because I live near the church and they needed a ride. I did not mind at all. I enjoyed it. One of the kids made the funniest comment ever and I’ve been laughing all day over it. I called the woman who had forgotten to show up for the carpool and told her that since she and her husband do other things that my family benefits from, I am happy to take over her carpool day so she doesn’t have to worry about it. This morning I have called one woman just to tell her I was sorry that she had to cancel her party last night because her family had too many difficulties that week so they couldn’t entertain. I hadn’t responded and I wanted to check in with her. I wrote an email to family members to update them on my dad’s health so my mom didn’t have to. I drove my daughter’s Psych notebook to the school (she will owe me a chore tonight). I texted my brother he is welcome to stay with us this weekend since he is coming since my dad is sick. I have looked up Mad Hatter costumes for girls and have wondered what my daughter wants and whether I should offer to make it since she can’t wear the sexy ones and I don’t know if she wants the “boy” ones. I need to leave in 25 minutes to volunteer at a school to tutor a child. I have spend too much time on the internet and not gone to the store which means I don’t have a plan for dinner and I might be expected to serve dinner to my own family plus my mother and sister so I should have spent more time with that. I can keep listing things I did, choices I made to help my children. I found the missing scooter. I waited at the bus stop with one of my kids which is something I don’t normally do just to hang out with them. I asked a 3rd grader if her 1st grade brother was still being bullied. I told her that her son has friends like my son who was upset about the poor because he cares about the brother. I have previously called the principal about the situation as soon as I heard about it. I wondered if I should call the principal again and I wondered what I could do to help this situation since it was playing out on my street on my kid’s bus with people who I know. I didn’t not call the principal again this morning. But it will stay in my mind, I will keep thinking and looking for ways to help the boy and his situation.
    I don’t want anyone saying that I should just say no to ANY of these choices that I have made to help others.

  72. I don’t think the criticism is meant to be judgmental of the woman’s choices as much as it is objecting to the message of the video–that the self-sacrificing choice is always the right one. Everyone knows mothers give up a lot for the sake of their children, and living in community means that you give things up to contribute. But the point of the OP, and most of the comments is not that there’s anything wrong with sacrifice, but that sometimes asserting your own needs and giving up the validation you get for always putting others first is the right sacrifice to make (and the hardest).

  73. What Kristine said. Absolutely.

  74. “. . . the message of the video–that the self-sacrificing choice is always the right one.”

    Is that the message of the video? That’s not what I took away from it.

  75. It’s not the woman making the choices, it’s just a script for a video. I’m not criticizing any woman’s choices here, I’m concerned that this video is telling women who are overwhelmed, stressed out, and completely unsupported that they can fix that by changing their attitude instead of solving the problem. Sure, a good attitude can fix things sometimes, but often we need to do more than that. I think it’s quite possible that the woman in the video needed the visit with her cousin as much as the friend needed a babysitter.

  76. “sometimes asserting your own needs and giving up the validation you get for always putting others first is the right sacrifice to make (and the hardest)”

    Kristine, I didn’t interpret the video as negating this. It focused on a woman who chose not to do this on one of her days, not realizing that it would ultimately mean that she didn’t get to spend that short time with her cousin that she’d been looking forward to and desperately needed. And that hit her really hard by the evening. The way her son phrased the prayer about having gotten everything God wanted the family to get done that day prompted her to think. The Hinckley quote was badly mismatched to the video no matter what your perspective of the video. The Chieko Okasaki quote was tailor-made for this but for some indecipherable reason was not used.

    I think the reason I liked it on first viewing and found it touching was because I interpreted it as descriptive of a bad day the woman had and the thing that helped her feel better about it after all was said and done (her son’s accidentally thoughtful phrasing of the prayer). And the video showed that it was perfectly okay that the house was an untouched mess at the end — that alone is a super needed and valuable message for LDS women, I would think, to the extent that they (we) have been culturally conditioned to keep up appearances of American suburban upper-middle-class McMansion-hood at all costs.

    A different video could be made that is prescriptive, rather than descriptive. That video could more didactically show a woman saying no sometimes and yes other times, depending on her own personal analysis of whether helping in the given circumstance was right for her family. I didn’t see this video as being about that but rather as simply validating women who have had days like that (but not in a prescriptive way). The mismatched Hinckley quote throws the whole thing into disarray and makes it feel somewhat prescriptive. That was unfortunate.

    Oh well. As I said earlier, I definitely understand the reasons that many women hate this video and I respect that. I also see where other women see some value in this.

  77. As an aside, I saw a few things in the video as attempts by the writers at subtle cultural jokes: (1) the girl who refuses to eat anything but cereal (both at breakfast and dinner); (2) the ubiquitous cultural misery of elementary school science fair projects and the inevitability of parents having to help with gluing paper onto the poster board as part of it; and (3) the mother’s attempt to recreate a Pinterest project, which turns out as a disaster. In particular with regard to (3), it was her choice of something to do for fun, but even that flopped (as probably 99% of attempts to recreate a Pinterest project do) on this really lame day for this lady.

    The jokes fell really flat as the whole video ended up coming across as glorifying the woman having said yes to everything and not taking care of her own needs based on the Hinckley quote at the end. But after viewing the video a couple of times, I feel relatively confident that these things in the video were meant to be lighthearted attempts at cultural inside jokes.

  78. I’m concerned that this video is telling women who are overwhelmed, stressed out, and completely unsupported that they can fix that by changing their attitude instead of solving the problem. Sure, a good attitude can fix things sometimes, but often we need to do more than that. I think it’s quite possible that the woman in the video needed the visit with her cousin as much as the friend needed a babysitter.

    Yes, that comment is very helpful to me Amira — thank you. I share that concern and completely agree with your statement about attitude and the woman’s needs. That is indeed problematic. The video ends with the woman having come to peace with what happened to her date with her cousin. So at least that is not left hanging. But I agree that the woman needed that time with her cousin almost as much as the woman’s friend needed someone to take her daughter so she wouldn’t have to be present at a doctor’s appointment where a serious medical issue was going to be discussed.

  79. Why does this site rag on so many good things? This was clearly a video meant to comfort women who feel overwhelmed and encourage that their efforts really are doing good. Why can’t we just let that be?

  80. This just sums up the biggest thing I’ve learned from serving in the bishopric for the last three years:

    Church doesn’t care what you had planned.

  81. JamesD, you need to read the comments to see why people had issues with the presentation in this video. Simply dismissing those out of hand is not charitable. Give it some thought. Something is not infallible just because it is produced by a media arm of the Church (and even if it has been specifically signed-off on by a GA).

  82. I liked the video and forwarded it to my wife. She IS that woman — even looks a lot like her.

    I’m actually happy that church videos are starting to drop the “sheen of perfection” style that used to prevail — that these videos acknowledge that life is hard, service isn’t always personally rewarding, that most of us have messy houses, too many demands, dashed hopes, unfulfilled expectations, etc. I’m glad that they’re starting to acknowledge in a more realistic way the lives that many of us live and how challenging it can be to find balance in living the gospel.

    I have to admit that I’m a little put off by some of the reactions to this video. I’m not saying they’re wrong, or that there haven’t been a lot of valid points. But some of this seems to be flavored with a lot of the “If I don’t like something, it’s because the church is doing it wrong!” knee-jerk assumption that’s so common in the Bloggernacle. Or maybe I’m just bringing my own pet peeve to the table. But I don’t think so. Picking at nits is what we do here on the Bloggernacle, and you can’t scratch that when you’re talking about something the church did that you liked.

    I work in a creative field and I’m used to being picked apart by people who interpret what I produce in a totally different way than I intended. It doesn’t mean a negative reaction was wrong or that their observations have no validity. But holy cow, I wish more people on the Bloggernacle were quicker to give church leaders (and video producers) the benefit of the doubt, and to make the presumption that maybe the thing they didn’t like was just something they didn’t like — and not necessarily some subconscious reveal on the part of the speaker/producer, which much be corrected by the more enlightened critic.

    Like the video or don’t like it. But because of the reactions I’ve gotten in my own job, I’m really sensitive to the all-too-common reverse-engineering of what someone said or produced in order to call that producer to repentance.

    If something in this video that you didn’t like speaks to a pet peeve of yours, have at it. But the people who made it may have had totally different reasons for their choices than you think.

  83. these videos acknowledge that life is hard, service isn’t always personally rewarding, that most of us have messy houses, too many demands, dashed hopes, unfulfilled expectations

    I also really like that about the video, especially that subtle message that “service isn’t always personally rewarding” — that is lightyears better and more realistic than previous Watchtower-esque portrayals of life in the Gospel.

    However, I don’t sign on to your blanket condemnation and “knee-jerk” criticism of “the Bloggernacle”, apparently holding BCC accountable for things that you have found negative on other Mormon blogs.

    I find the criticisms and concerns of those who took real issue with this video to be valid and important to have openly acknowledged and discussed. I personally found it touching and uplifting on the first viewing but also easily see the concerns that others had with it, as expressed in the original post and in the comments. At the very worst, they are constructive criticism that could be put to very good use by Church media, if it were to actually read BCC. Free focus-grouping.

  84. ok, we have until now ignored the biggest problem of all–the grammatical issue. I’m pretty sure that in his prayer, the son says “We thank thee that we were able to do everything thee needed us to do.” Clearly, we are living in the last days, when even the very elect of Bonneville have forgotten the true and antiquated Jacobean grammar.

  85. Some things cannot be forgiven in this life Kristine. I’m not calling for blood atonement for grammatical errors, but I’m also not decrying its use.

  86. I don’t think I’m going to rewatch it to see if that is true, Kristine, but if so, you are indeed correct.

  87. “thee needed us to do”????? What is wrong with the youth of this country??!! It’s the pride cycle, people. We are ripening in iniquity, sure to be cut off any minute now.

  88. He’s kind of mumbling into his elbows, so there may yet be hope…

  89. I just forced myself to watch it again. He says “you needed.” Whew!! Better to go with the formal form than butcher the familiar.

  90. huge relief, thx

  91. lindseybhicks says:

    This was hilarious! You’re a great writer.

  92. My husband has threatened several times to be my secretary and screen all calls for help, involvement, and volunteerism. I’m known for stretching myself too thin, crashing in bed for a few days from being strung out, and struggling to be able to complete everything. Because of our culture (and even videos like this) I thought I was a normal mormon mom. Earning blessings raining down from heaven and blessing others’ lives by not saying no.

    Just got back from the Doctor last week. Turns out I have Lupus, which requires a lot of self-care I am not sure how to manage (for those of you who don’t know it’s an auto-immune disease with a lot of joint pain and chronic fatigue). I’ve never been taught how to take care of myself so I can help others.

    I was not a fan of this video. I can see how others would find it uplifting.

  93. I wish more people on the Bloggernacle were quicker to give church leaders (and video producers) the benefit of the doubt

    See, it’s the “and” part there that is really interesting.

  94. Sorry about the lupus, Kristine A. Best wishes.

    You might want to check out the little book I mentioned before, Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much. Actually, if one of the admins could forward my email address to you, I’d be happy to pass along the well-loved copy sitting on my desk. Just let me know and I’ll drop it in the mail.

  95. I’m going to go against the grain here. I love _The Giving Tree_. It’s a brilliant book and an ageless parable. And by ageless, I mean that, no matter your age, if you are willing to ponder it, you will find valuable and fitting truths for your stage in life.

    A four year old will read the book and see that selfishness doesn’t lead to happiness–which is appropriate to four-year-olds who are beginning to learn how to be empathetic.

    A teenager can read the book and add complexity, recognizing that the tree didn’t allow herself to be treated fairly. And that such an outcome doesn’t seem ideal.

    A young adult can read the book and question whether one is truly happy if happiness is dependent on the presence of another person. Independent happiness is a value in itself.

    And with time, we can even relate the parable to abusive relationships, where the boy is the abuser and the tree is the abusee who is too afraid of the unknown to leave the relationship.

    The book isn’t about what brings happiness. It’s about dysfunctional relationships. The moral of the story will change with your age (and that’s fine), but we can see that at some phase, the moral of the story is, “don’t be the boy, and don’t be the tree.”

    In that context, I find extreme brilliance in the idea of editing the video to replace the Hinckley quote with the Okazaki quote. Under the Hinckley quote, it feels too much like the interpretation that we should be the tree. But under the Okazaki quote, it seems like the video would be a powerful reinterpretation of _The Giving Tree_.

  96. Some people are commenting that if you can’t relate, count yourself lucky and move along. It is because I CAN relate that really didn’t like this video. It took me right back to my over tired and overwhelmed days of post partum depression when I had 2 babies and a husband gone 14 hours a day in law school and working. I CAN relate to that woman and this video brought back feelings of deep pain and sadness. Feelings of drowning and desperately needing help. But this woman didn’t get help. She just kept going and doing, despite her own needs. Eventually this leads to burn out, depression, anxiety, resentment, etc. I DO relate to this situation very much and this did not inspire or uplift me.

  97. But the people who made it may have had totally different reasons for their choices than you think.

    Most assuredly, but that doesn’t require that we privilege their intent over our own response.

  98. “Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven.” I know there may be some things wrong with this video, but the reality is being a mother means sacrifice. I have 5 children and I make time to do things for myself, but sometimes others’ needs are greater than mine. My husband is Bishop and I’ve never felt that any sacrifice I have made to help him serve those in our ward goes unnoticed by Heavenly Father who always sends the blessings I need. Sacrifice is a principle of the gospel. We are asked to sacrifice by a loving Heavenly Father who knows that as we sacrifice, we are being shaped to become all that He intends us to become. We need to be wise knowing when others’ needs are greater than our own. If we are truly grateful for all Heavenly Father has given us, we’ll recognize that no sacrifice is too great.

    We as sisters beat ourselves up not thinking we’ve done enough. The intent of this Mormon Message, although flawed, was to show that we need to recognize that we do more good than we realize and that our offering is acceptable when we do the best we can. That’s a message many women in the Church need.

  99. There are a few things that the woman does that that I don’t agree with but in the end the message is “we’re all doing the best we can and it’s ok if things don’t always go our way.” It’s not like that woman has a day like that every day. Rather than standing back and telling someone they should have ordered a pizza when they’re trying to be nice and make someone some homemade food, why not remember “Hey, they’re doing the best they can,” and those “best they can” moments are a life-saver moment to someone else. You’re over-analyzing it. Get over it.

  100. HL, sacrifice only brings forth the blessings of heaven if the sacrifice has been required by the Lord. Needless sacrifice brings forth nothing but suffering.

  101. Marthamylove, you nailed it. The risks are huge with scrupulosity. I have studied it, too. Thank you for your comment.

  102. Thomas Parkin says:

    God wants you to suffer. Walk a long way without and food or shoes. Whip yourself. Spend all day on menial, meaningless tasks. He especially wants this from women, as suffering will tend to purge out their tendency to tempt men with their existence. Don’t worry, this will all be made right in the next life. The next life will be pure bliss because there you will have no self.

  103. Steve Evans, that is true but irrelevant since only the woman herself is entitled to personal revelation to know whether the Lord is requiring the sacrifice of her. Yet some have been quick to judge and second-guess her actions.

    Folks, I thoroughly appreciate the importance of self-nurturing and setting limits and all that has been said in that regard. When The Giving Tree was recommended for our co-op preschool, I replaced it with Bill Peet’s The Ant and the Elephant which stresses cooperation. I love the book LifeBalance by Linda and Richard Eyre, and I cheered when Elder Ballard got up in April 2008 General Conference and told moms, “…even as you try to cut out the extra commitments, sisters, find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children.” So those kind of messages are not entirely missing from the Mormon experience.

    But in my day-to-day life, I get all kinds of support for taking time for myself, very few reminders about the importance of serving others and appreciating the impact that service might have. So I don’t mind hearing that message loud and clear on occasion.

    If this were one of 10 videos in a row focusing only on women and trying to sell Abnegation as the only acceptable lifestyle, I would also be concerned. But they are not allowed to make one lousy video about this? And it is worthy of all these blog posts? Seriously?

    In my service to family and church, I have often been stretched beyond what I thought was my limit, only to find that I could do more with the strength of the Lord. On one occasion, I agreed to babysit for a guy in the ward whose wife was out of town. He was a medical resident. He dropped his toddler off before dawn when we were getting up for seminary, and planned to be back by late afternoon. The toddler didn’t really understand where he was, didn’t like our toys, and I was counting down the minutes until his dad would pick him up. Except there was a car accident on the highway, and the dad had to go back into surgery to help save the eye of one of the crash victims. So the toddler stayed for dinner.

    Oh, I guess I should have told him no, he had to come get him NOW. because my needs are more important than a young father who would lose his eyesight and livelihood without the surgery?

  104. John Mansfield says:

    Too bad the Mormon mother enduring a hard day wasn’t walking a pilgrimage with her cousin instead, because that wouldn’t be Mormon-y and so, possibly, good.

  105. really a stretch, JM.

  106. Naismith, being irrelevant is my specialty – I recommend that you shed your own pretentions of relevance.


    PPS — poor form, John Mansfield. You’re a smart man and can deliver better criticism.

  107. Naismith,

    I don’t think its irrelevant since the woman is fictional and the video is a teaching device. I just don’t think that the examples in the video were examples I would use to teach a class of useful sacrifice. There are quite a few other examples I would use. There are some circumstances which I believe the lord would require her to sacrifice her evening with her cousin, this is definitely not one of them.

    There were things that really touched me about the video the first time I watched it. I do like the idea of thinking of the good that we don’t really see. I just would never hold this up as an example of how to live and that would be an easy message for people to take away from it. If that woman was a sister in my ward I would feel like she is a truly wonderful sister who is trying her hardest to live the gospel. I would try my hardest to teach her some wisdom to go with her zeal and the difference between useful sacrifice and non useful sacrifice so she could truly feel the joy of service in the kingdom and not just the exhaustion. By just making a few small changes she could feel all the joy and much less exhaustion. The video could be a great video with just a few small changes as well.

  108. Look, I really don’t want to demean the sensibilities of people who liked this video. But I think you would have liked it just as much if it had been a little less offensive.

    What I don’t like about this video is not that the woman makes sacrifices and puts her needs last. Sometimes our needs really do come last. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. What I object to most is pairing this woman’s story with the Gordon B. Hinckley quote BECAUSE IT DOESN’T FIT. (Sorry for yelling, but sometimes I feel like I have to.) Making sacrifices and putting our own needs last doesn’t make us feel like failures. Often we do feel like failures but it’s because we think we have not fulfilled our obligations, NOT because we have made too many sacrifices on behalf of others.

    Someone who feels like a failure needs to be reassured that they do more good than they can necessarily see right now. That would be a great idea for an inspirational video on the Mormon Channel, but that’s not the story this video tells. If the woman in this video feels like a failure for doing too many things for others, she is unlike any human being I have ever encountered. As I said in the OP, I don’t believe she does feel like a failure. I think she just feels sad and extremely disappointed. Possibly resentful. But let’s say she does feel like a failure. She feels like a failure because she tried too hard to do good and didn’t manage to meet her cousin at the airport. (It’s a stretch, but fine.) The lesson she needs to learn in that case is that she shouldn’t be overextending herself, not “it’s a good thing you overextended yourself because if you hadn’t, LOOK AT ALL THESE PEOPLE WHO WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN HELPED.” That does not address her (theoretical) feelings of failure. It reinforces the message that you really can’t ever say no, even if it means overextending yourself, because WHAT IF.

    Obviously, it’s hard to convey visually when someone is acting according to spiritual promptings. I am open to the idea that the Holy Ghost might tell you to spend an evening baking a casserole instead of meeting your cousin at the airport. In that case, I think the Holy Ghost might also prompt you to text your cousin and say, “Sorry, I can’t meet you after all because God wants me to bake this casserole.” Or whatever. The fact that she overextends herself confuses the message, which I believe the makers of the video intended to be positive. The way it’s put together says, “Overextending yourself isn’t failing! It’s winning!” That’s not a positive message. But I’m happy for those of you who got the message they intended to give instead of the one they actually sent.

  109. Rebecca J – I guess I’m just not seeing it the way you are seeing it. You (and others) seem convinced that the Hinckley quote doesn’t fit because the woman wouldn’t feel bad about spending her day doing good things for other people. To me, however, the whole point of the video is that she didn’t fully comprehend the good she was doing for others. For her, she felt like her day was full of failures: sleeping in, having a messy house from morning until evening, caving in to her kids on breakfast choices, throwing together a forgotten science project with her son at the last minute, failing at a Pinterest project, begrudgingly watching someone’s kid (and perhaps feeling used), bringing dinner to someone late, missing her friend at the airport, etc. It would have been easy for her to see her whole day as being full of failures. As I see it, the point of the video (as explained by the Hinckley quote) is that, despite these failures, she had been a huge blessing to several people that day – much more than she could have realized.

  110. heathermommy says:

    Here is my take on it. If you see the video as prescriptive (this is what you should do) then you hate it. If you see it as (descriptive (this is what many women’s lives are like) then you like it. I saw its as descriptive. To me the video wasn’t holding this woman up as something to aspire to. It was showing us how crazy our lives are sometimes. I didn’t take any of her specific circumstances as literal but more metaphorical. We take on more than we can handle, we make parenting mistakes, we have a messy house, we try to do stuff for ourselves and it always seems to get ruined. Life is overwhelming sometimes and we fell like we never measure up. To me the video was just trying to say even if we see ourselves as failures our efforts really do matter.

  111. Gritty. Real. Descriptive. Whatever. It’s not okay to accurately describe women’s lives and then offer bad advice for coping by way of a misappropriated quote. The Hinckley quote in context of the talk essentially means “we can’t thank you enough for the work you do. Keep up the good work.” In the context of the video the unambiguous message is “you never know the good you [might] do [so quit crying already]”

  112. I have never left a comment before, but I had to say that I think you missed the whole point of the video. If you listen carefully to the boy’s prayer at the end, you’ll hear him say that they are thankful that they accomplished everything HE (meaning Heavenly Father) needed them to do. She (the mom) didn’t accomplish everything she needed to do, but was instead an instrument in the Lord’s hands in accomplishing HIS to-do list.

  113. Well, fine. I give in. I don’t know how to interpret inspirational videos. They are in a language I don’t speak.

  114. John Mansfield,
    Having done it, I assure you that walking a pilgrimage can be very, very Mormon-y.

  115. John Mansfield says:

    John C., it’s not one of those “O, That I Were an Anglican” things?

  116. “walking a pilgrimage can be very, very Mormon-y.”

    IF you wear a bonnet.

    “it’s not one of those “O, That I Were an Anglican” things?”

    Holy envy is a factor. We should be so lucky if our officially sanctioned social media offerings prompted something similar in others.

  117. Bingo, Peter. Our temples did it for none other than Krister Stendahl. Do our current actions and presentations of ourselves do it for anyone else?

  118. Given that Henry VIII ended up wrecking most of England’s pilgrimage sites, I don’t think pilgrimage is a very Anglican thing at all, actually. If you’re going to get barbs in, you’ve got to know which barbs belong where.

  119. yep, and, like Peter said: “Trek” (duh)

  120. As I speculated above, I think the division of opinion of the video is much more about personality than politics. Some personality types react well to this sort of validation, others react poorly. As it happens, these personality types sometimes align with “political positions”, but this is largely coincidence–just because someone doesn’t like this video doesn’t mean they oppose Church leadership, and vice versa.

    Unfortunately, the Internet (and society in general) is so polarized that people tend to leap to conclusions and “pigeon-hole” other commenters, rather than actually listen and consider what the person is saying. As a result, a lot of the comments in this thread are dedicated to proving other people “wrong” about their own feelings and experiences.

    Kind of a waste, really. I think there is a good discussion to be had about the different reactions the video elicits, but it is largely being buried by unnecessary partisan argument.

  121. John Mansfield says:

    And there I was feeling so clever with my play on Alma. Trek is Mormon-y and so any tiredness or aches are pointless and wrong in some way, nothing like the goodness of a Catholic’s pilgrimage to Chimayo.

  122. Huh, before you thought it was an Anglican thing. I’m not following your line of thought. To summarize: you don’t like BCC bloggers’ periodic trips to walk ancient pilgrimage routes (though you’re invited, of course, so it’s not an exclusive thing). But you do like Trek. But you don’t like blog posts criticizing a Church media production about a mom who had a bad day.

  123. The play on Alma was a good one.

  124. I’ll let John into a secret: for these BCC Anglican/Catholic wannabees, pilgrimages are great fun, kind of like leaving one’s daily chores behind and having a great night out with an old friend.

  125. John Mansfield says:

    John F., since you’re interested, the train of my thought was thus:

    There were a few comments above such as one by Steve Evans, “HL, sacrifice only brings forth the blessings of heaven if the sacrifice has been required by the Lord. Needless sacrifice brings forth nothing but suffering.” That turned my mind to the posts at this web site about pilgrimages in Europe undertaken by some of the writers here. Unnecessary, voluntary exertion and discomfort is usually part of a pilgrimage. For example last year Father Gonzalez, a priest at the Santuario de Chimayo, in his second item of advice for Holy Week pilgrims wrote, “During the pilgrimage, offer God your tiredness, hunger, suffering, pain.” It seems that many BCC writers can value such a concept much easier if it is coming from a non-LDS direction; my comments are needling the distaste for the LDS Church and its members that colors much writing here. I also connected the pilgrimage posts at BCC with other items here such as, “An Apologia for ‘High Church” Mormonism” by Jason K.: “Readers of BCC will have noticed a persistent interest here in things Anglican. If it isn’t Kristine reminding us once again that on the eighth day God made British choirboys, there are all the posts in the Mormon Lectionary Project, Ronan’s Christian Disciplines series, or John F.’s posts about occasions when Mormons get liturgical (including this Rosh Hashanah post). Occasionally, people wonder about the implications of all this crypto-Anglicanism.” I had no idea, as Ronan has corrected me, that Anglicans are or were against pilgrimages. That was my line of thought, such as it is.

    On your other points, I am glad for those who were able to spend their days as pilgrims; it sounds like time well spent. I have mixed feelings about Trek; I mostly like the idea, but I dislike how it has taken on codified rituals like a visit to Mecca so that every one I hear about sounds the same. I like Rebecca J.’s posts criticizing anything she wants to; she’s a very good writer who usually comes at things from a fresh direction, and I feel no need for her to write things I agree with. The poor state of newspapers today can be seen in the fact that no editor has snatched her away as a columnist.

  126. the distaste for the LDS Church and its members that colors much writing here

    So, that’s where you’ve gone wrong. Astounding that this is your view of BCC after reading it for years. To each his or her own though. Best wishes.

  127. Whether you’re a practicing Mormon or not, reading the play-by-play of the video (I was uninterested in watching it) shows me that modern straight husbands still have miles to go before they’ve even made a dent in equity in any kind of household duties. Whether prescriptive or descriptive, this kind of lifestyle is unnecessary and certainly anxiety-inducing. All women need identities outside “wife” or “mother,” that are simply “human.”

  128. it's a series of tubes says:

    modern straight husbands still have miles to go before they’ve even made a dent in equity in any kind of household duties

    Or not.

    /s/ modern straight husband

  129. john f., John M. took the time to write a detailed and I think thought provoking explanation in response to your confusion and all you can do is dismiss him with your wrong interpretation of one sentence? To say that something colors the writing here is not to say that it predominates all discourse. It ignores John M.’s astute connection of Steven Evans’ comment and BCC’s repeated and glowing reports of pilgrimages, as well as his specific agreement with much of what is said here and of who is saying it. Perhaps that’s where you have gone wrong.

    But I have to agree with Mansfield, after reading and sometimes participating at BCC for more than a decade I see it too. Although I wouldn’t call it distaste, perhaps that is where John M. has gone wrong as well. I see it more as juvenile embarrassment of your own family, like what you see in teenagers who are mortified by their supposedly weird family, assuming that everyone else is so much cooler and more normal. We’re a young religion that doesn’t have the centuries of traditions found in other faiths. That can be a bad thing, it can also be a good thing. Maybe we spend too much time assuming and speaking about only the negatives.

  130. KLC, “That can be a bad thing, it can also be a good thing. Maybe we spend too much time assuming and speaking about only the negatives.”

    That’s a very important principle – and I would agree with that sentiment. I would disagree that it represents anything pervasive on this site, really. Much of the devotional content at BCC just gets ignored, then when something more controversial is posted people cry apostate. I also think the description of “juvenile embarrassment” is not too far off the mark, except, perhaps, for the “juvenile” element.

  131. I guess the argument KLC is making is that embarrassment, if it is true that such is predominantly on display at BCC (I disagree with this), must necessarily be a sign of apostasy because no faithful Latter-day Saint would ever be embarrassed by something the Church does.

  132. “If it isn’t Kristine reminding us once again that on the eighth day God made British choirboys….”

    If I were Kristine, I’d appreciate your choice of verb. ;)

  133. Steve, I don’t think Mansfield’s comment said that it was pervasive, nor did I say that. And I used juvenile in connection with the young age of our faith, comparing it with the young age of a teenager, which I explicitly said, not in the sense that BCC is juvenile. And john f., I guess you just want to fight because your interpretation of what I said is not even close to what I did say. Apostasy? Where did that come from? There is a difference between being honestly embarrassed by bone headed cultural mores and doctrinal extrapolations and being embarrassed because you think the other guys are so much cooler than we are because they have choirboys and pilgrimages and liturgical calendars. I’ve experienced the former many times, I’ve expressed that on LDS blogs, including this one. But I can’t say I have much experience with the latter.

  134. KLC, JM’s comment was about the “distaste” he finds in much of what is written here for the Church and its members. And your comment came to the defense of that (though you conceded he might be wrong to say “distaste” and so you changed it to “juvenile embarrassment”). Now you clarify that by that you meant we’re jealous of choirboys and liturgical calendars. Since we’re correcting words here, let me suggest changing that from “juvenile embarrassment” or “jealousy” to “Holy Envy” as envisioned and explained by Krister Stendahl in his flattering view of the Mormon temple.

    This has nothing to do with itching for a fight. Remember, accountability is a profoundly Mormon sentiment. Is it too much to ask that people be held accountable for their accusations? If they accuse BCC of providing “distaste” for the Church and its members (a false claim) or of exhibiting “juvenile embarrassment” at the same (a mischaracterization, at best), then isn’t some pushback natural? Or are BCC authors to sit back and simply let someone else create a narrative in which BCC, though comprised of faithful Church members who work day and night in furtherance of the interests of the Church and the Gospel, is depicted as contrary to the Gospel or the Church’s mission because some of its writers periodically examine unwarranted and damaging cultural accretions that Mormons have combined with Gospel requirements over the course of decades?

  135. KLC, thanks for the clarification, I appreciate it. For what it’s worth, JM’s comment was that it “colors much writing” here, which is vague I suppose but indicates a significant portion.

  136. I would just like to point out that 1) Steve hasn’t gone on any pilgrimages, so what does he know about pointless sacrifice; 2) the BCC is not a parliamentary party whose members are obligated to vote in accordance with party policy or face exile; and 3) there is a tendency to exaggerate the significance of rare events–please correct me if I’m wrong, but “BCC’s repeated and glowing reports of pilgrimages” amounts to three posts out of 5,650.

  137. bingo, but may there be many, many more

  138. “what does he know about pointless sacrifice”

    I’m a Mets fan.

  139. Oh my. All this handwringing. And here I thought Mansfield’s joke was one of the funnier things I’ve read on BCC for some time…

  140. Ouch. I stand corrected.

  141. yes, but only if it is sung to the Wanda Palmer tune.

  142. john f, is there a difference between baseless accusations and observations based on perception? John made an interesting comparison, I thought it was worth considering, you seemed to dismiss him. Then you dismissed me by talking to me in third person and fabricating a cheap joke that tried to make me look like a Mormon zealot who believes the church can do no wrong. Now you want to argue definitions with me. Best wishes.

    peterllc, there is a tendency to exaggerate the signifcance of rare events. John Mansfield’s and my comment are two out of how many tens of thousands of comments at BCC and yet look at the response.

  143. The musical number linked by john f. (3:02 pm) redeemed all this verbal bushwhacking for me. Strong, good medicine. The Best Medicine.

  144. KLC,

    You’re right. John F. responded unfairly, and I think a retraction is in order.

  145. I retract.

  146. Whoa.

    [let’s try other things: I think a piece of cheesecake is in order]

  147. I apologize for the poor choice of words. I should have wagged my finger more explicitly at the tendency we all have to slip into confirmatory mode and draw unwarranted conclusions from non-representative samples.

  148. Is this about the Mets?

  149. Are the Mets hypocritical losers?

  150. Yes. Yes, they are.

  151. The Mets have rendered a representative sample.

    Scott and Steve should now rank personal sacrifices expected by Mormons.

  152. I think appreciation for the good found in other religious vernaculars could be read either as juvenile embarrassment about Mormons not being cool, or as a mark of a faith that is mature enough and certain enough of core Mormon convictions to appreciate illuminating elements from elsewhere. Take your pick, I guess.

    It’s true that I love Anglican (and Lutheran, and Catholic) music, but I spend most of my musical time in the trenches with the ward choir, and I’m glad of it. For the record.

  153. KLC,
    I don’t know your initials, so I don’t know how long you’ve been around.

    First of all, thank you for your thoughtful critique. Certainly we all need to be reminded to respond with kindness and to give the benefit of doubt to new commenters. And occasionally to older ones.

    Second, John Mansfield has a long history of showing up and trolling our threads. John F’s assumptions regarding John M’s implicit accusations are based on several years of online interaction, not just one thread or one ironic comment. I suppose it is possible that John M was being exceptionally generous of spirit today, but I doubt it.

    Third, I think there are differences between Trek and a pilgrimage beyond one being Mormon and the other Catholic-ish. I also think there are differences between being embarrassed by the church and trying to offer loyal criticism. Frankly, when I’m embarrassed by something, I don’t usually comment on it at all.

    Finally, I’m baffled by why I or anyone had to justify the pilgrimages on this thread. We were in the temple with you daily; were you incapable of bringing this up on an actual pilgrimage thread? Why saddle Rebecca’s wonderful post with all this unrelated blather?

  154. John Mansfield says:

    Ah, I just finished a tedious evening of skim coating sheetrock. Fortunately, there was the Nationals game against the Mets to listen to as I worked. Gio Gonzalez topped his personal record with twelve strikeouts and only allowed one hit in seven innings.

  155. Kid needs to take responsibility for his own homework. Other kid needs to eat what is put in front of her. It wasn’t clear about the woman with the dr. appt., but those are usually scheduled in advance, so why the last-minute dump? Same with the last-minute request for dinner. My mother was this self-sacrificing woman. My brothers, as a result, put the needs of their wives at the bottom of the pile. Granted I no longer have kids at home, (I guess I’m the proverbial stump) but I will occasionally buy myself a new pair of shoes or do something “selfish” now and then. It would be wonderful to see a portrayal of a woman setting boundaries with everyone. I love this line. “I cannot allow your lack of planning to become my crisis.” Sometimes we do need to sacrifice and step up to the plate, but we need to ditch this model of the “nothing left for me” woman. I once watched my nieces and nephews one afternoon at the last minute, even though it was the last day I could withdraw from classes I was no longer going to take, because of an upcoming move and get a full refund. I never told my SIL how much that babysitting job cost me. It has been hard for me to learn, but I sometimes say no.

  156. I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds this video concerning and disturbing. Here is my feedback…
    Mom, why are you in bed when your kids are up?
    Mom, fix one breakfast; if kids don’t eat it, then they go hungry. And I see what seems like “coloured” cheerios. Hope you know you’re feeding your kid sugar and preservatives…
    Mom, you are not responsible for doing your son’s homework. He didn’t fairly win the Science Fair. It’s okay to help with assignments, but children need to take responsibility…after all, the point is to raise independent, kids…
    Mom, no need to say “yes” to every request. Chieko’s comment about this (see above) is right on.

    The mom who had the appt–seems obvious that she left it to the last minute to get a babysitter. If she was in a pinch (babysitter cut out at the last minute), take the child with you and bring books, etc so child can amuse herself in the waiting room.

    When you know you’re going to have a baby, make meals ahead of time and freeze them! Hubby can always dash out and pick up something or have it delivered or make it!!!

    Impact on kids: Frustrated, irritated mom. They feel her negative energy. The kids look sad, even frightened.

    Her Prayer: Very generic. Thankful for…name the specifics.

    Parents, you are the architects of your family. What is this mom teaching her children? Where did she learn it’s okay to not take care of herself?

    There’s a difference between enabling and serving.

    Independent people are happy people.

    And, yes, I’m a parenting specialist. Kids and parents, both, thrive on structure, boundaries and consequences. I hope this is not how most LDS families function. If it is, we’re in trouble!

    I liked President Hinckley’s comments, but we need a better story, a much better story.

  157. “It wasn’t clear about the woman with the dr. appt., but those are usually scheduled in advance, so why the last-minute dump?” I assumed (based on the grim outcome) it was because she was seeing a specialist and they had fit her in whenever. Many who have been diagnosed with cancer or another dread disease in which hours of delay in getting treatment can change the outcome can tell stories of seeing their primary care doctor that morning and being sent to an oncologist or surgeon that same afternoon.

    When I was ill, I had three major procedures while my husband was out of the country, because it was the only time available if I didn’t want to wait two more months. I’m so grateful that the friends who watched my children did not accuse me of leaving things to the last minute.

  158. “Mom, why are you in bed when your kids are up?”

    Too funny!! I didn’t know I signed a contract that I couldn’t be in bed when one or more of my children were out of theirs!

    “Where did she learn it’s okay to not take care of herself?”

    Evidently from messages like yours. (See “Mom, why are you in bed…”)

  159. A Happy Hubby says:

    Interestingly enough, Meridian magazine actually commented on this and it was agreeing that this was reflective of reality and probably sends another signal that may not have been intended.

  160. I am not LDS (many family members are and I was raised in the religion, but consider myself a “Formon”= Former Mormon).. Anyhow I really feel you were spot on here with what you said. In any scenario/religion you see someone giving a message to serve without saying anything negative about it- even if it means you’re left with zero time to yourself at the end of every blasted day.

    One Bible verse I have as a “reminder” in my phone to pop up every few days says “Do all things without murmurings or questionings- Philippians 2:14. I keep it as a reminder for me to not be AS cynical in various situations and to just shut up and help rather than complain all the time. BUT, as I mentioned (or you mentioned rather), this poor woman is doing her best to keep everyone afloat. God (Heavenly Father) wants us to be happy- that doesn’t mean serving others until you have no energy left to even feed yourself etc (dramatic point but you see what I mean).

    I do like the quoted passage they had voiced over. I didn’t necessarily see it from a mother’s standpoint, but rather I saw it as “Hey, you’re doing your best and God knows it. You might feel like your ‘best’ isn’t good enough, but it’s more than enough. Your kindness will have the ripple effect through many lives that you’ll never comprehend.

    Anyhow, thanks again for voicing your thoughts- it was well said and your writing is superb!

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