The Best Judgments are Made in Trump Tower Grill

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Wicked vs. righteous judgment—is there such a thing? (Source)

When did Mormons get so allergic to judging? As of September 2016 everything seemed fine. But sometime in the late fall/early winter an allergen spread like wildfire throughout the ancestral home of Mormonism and by January 2017 its immune system was generating antibodies like a The Piano Guys video racking up likes on Youtube–lines had been crossed and it was time to retire judgment for good! This is what Jesus would do, after all, when faced with the prospect of a religious-freedom hating casino magnate becoming the president-elect, and how could we do other? 

Speaking of The Piano Guys, they too have boarded the anti-judging bandwagon, mistaking Mother Theresa’s defiance of segregation, Marian Anderson’s struggle to overcome racial prejudice, President Obama’s unflagging commitment to a peaceful transfer of power, Jesus Christ’s message to those in positions of power and authority and Elder Uchtdorf’s pithy advice to cut each other some slack with the siren call to kiss the ring of power.

Closer to home, a commenter on a recent post invoked the second Great Commandment as a reason to cease being critical of the president-elect and limit ourselves to saying things like “I can’t imagine how hard this has been for you.” My head is spinning–conservatives take over the political process in the United States and suddenly we’ve entered a post-judgment era?

Now, I realize that we’re all sinners and need mercy and that Elder Uchtdorf’s advice to “Stop it!” is sound when it comes to the kinds of interactions he addresses. I’ve even expressed my own concern about unrighteous judgments here, lest you assume I am in need of another call to repentance. But the sanctimonious rejection of judgment that lately seems to be filling the whole earth like the stone cut out of the mountain without hands is not a good-faith appeal to improve ourselves. Rather, it is an oversized pillow used to stifle legitimate debate.

As the author of several posts critical of the arguments marshalled by Church spokespeople to justify endorsing the president-elect at his upcoming inauguration, I also realize that some of you are reaching for your keyboards to type: “More self-serving liberal drivel!” And you wouldn’t be totally wrong, but neither would you be justified in persisting in your call for suspending judgment. Not only would you be shooting yourself in the foot by limiting the range of legitimate expression about the exasperation you feel about me but you also would be missing the message of a prophet that left a lasting impression on me since I saw him deliver it back at the BYU late in the last millennium:

Elder Oaks noted here that

 …mortals must refrain from judging any human being in the final sense of concluding or proclaiming that he or she is irretrievably bound for hell or has lost all hope of exaltation.

In contrast to forbidding mortals to make final judgments, the scriptures require mortals to make what I will call “intermediate judgments.” These judgments are essential to the exercise of personal moral agency.

The Savior also commanded individuals to be judges, both of circumstances and of other people.

The scriptures not only command or contemplate that we will make intermediate judgments but also give us some guidance—some governing principles—on how to do so.

Hopefully this clears up a common misperception: judgment isn’t (just) a synonym for “Go to Hell!” This kind of (final) judgment is bad, and we shouldn’t be doing it. If by “Don’t judge me, bro!” you mean, “Don’t be a jerk!” that’s fair too. In such situations the governing principles outlined in the talk above are critical: “Judgment is an important use of our agency and requires great care, especially when we make judgments about other people.” But within those guidelines, judgments are possible and sometimes even necessary.

At this juncture I’d like to ask that you follow me like a leopard, for my argument is about to get complex (well, not really, but read on):

  1. I bear no personal animosity towards the president-elect, his supporters (unless the guy who kicked me in the shin and stole my watch supports the president-elect; in which case lots of personal animosity there), or any of the thousands of people–including, to my regret, representatives of the Church–who will participate in the ceremony on Friday at which President Obama is expected to peacefully transfer power to the president-elect.
  2. I am not claiming that I am beyond reproof, that my judgments on this or any other issue are righteous. That’s all up for debate, and it’s a discussion we should be able to have without people losing their minds about glass houses.
  3. I’m still going to judge the president-elect and those who endorse and otherwise support him for reasons I’ve already articulated and may yet articulate.
  4. That doesn’t necessarily make me a devil, nor would refusal to judge necessarily make me a saint.

I’m going to start wrapping this post up with a trite observation: Good judgments don’t grow on trees; making them requires work. Fortunately, Mormons have the best tools–scriptures, living prophets and the Holy Ghost–at their disposal to help them. And unless the future is nothing like the past, we’ll have lots of opportunity to use them. So let’s pick up where we apparently left off last fall, refrain from smothering disagreement with appeals to holy writ and our shortcomings and become known far and wide for making (domestically, of course!) the greatest judgments the world has ever seen.

In closing, a reminder that to every thing there is a season:

The truth of charity is different than the truth of criticism. To call forth the best in ourselves and others requires both, but they cannot be practiced in the same moment. – Thinking the Twentieth Century / Tony Judt with Timothy Snyder, xvii

 

Comments

  1. Clark Goble says:

    People often find justifications for what they want to believe. I suspect with Trump though the honeymoon was over before it began. He already has massive unpopularity ratings. I think it’s starting to sink in what he brings to the Presidency. I also bet that he’ll clash with conservatives sooner rather than later – probably over the ACA. At that point we’ll see how the talk radio people react – and that’s likely what’s driving these “don’t judge” comments.

  2. We need to differentiate between judgment as a matter of spiritual state (e.g., “he’s a sinner, he’s going to hell”) and judgment as a matter of practical decision making (e.g., “this nominee for Secretary of Education appears to know very little about education and is therefore a bad choice.”). Jesus does not tell us to be stupid.

  3. The whole point of coming to earth is to learn the difference between right and wrong. We can’t do that without making judgement calls between what is right and what is wrong.

  4. Well said, Peter.

  5. we’ll see how the talk radio people react – and that’s likely what’s driving these “don’t judge” comments.

    Good point.

  6. Jesus does not tell us to be stupid.

    Also a good point.

  7. Good points, all.
    However, never one to leave well enough alone, “judging” is a complex subject, there is more to it than any one post can say, and in particular there is much to like and also much to engage with (disagree, debate) in Elder Oaks’ talk referenced here by a substantial quote and (inappropriately, in my opinion) washed in the tint of a “message of a prophet” as though irrefutable and beyond debate.

  8. (inappropriately, in my opinion) washed in the tint of a “message of a prophet” as though irrefutable and beyond debate

    Yeah, I confess that when I agree with someone for a particular reason I’m happy to pull out all the stops in a way that’s so often modeled at church.

  9. Learning the difference between right and wrong? If only it were that simple. I think a big part of this life is learning and applying judgment in a complicated, nuanced, and messy world, where right and wrong our murky at best, and masquerade as each other often. We cannot escape passing judgment any more than we can escape the consequences of our judging.

    Well-written post. That’s my favorite Friberg painting too.

  10. What Steve said.

    Also to christian’s point, I remember that talk, and I’ve thought about it a lot over the years. I agree with Elder Oaks (and Peter) that “judge not” isn’t an absolute that prevents any criticism, or condemnation of sin. But to the extent that Elder Oaks is saying that the only thing off limits is judging a person’s final salvific state and everything else is fair game, I think that’s too narrow a reading of the commandment not to judge. I think it’s closely bound up in the idea that we will be judged by the same standard by which we judge, and to the recognition that, aside from the things that we shouldn’t judge, there are also things that we objectively can’t judge, because we just don’t have the facts. The Lord looks on the heart, but we are limited to the outward appearance and can only guess at the heart, so it’s not just that we shouldn’t judge a person’s heart, it’s that we actually can’t do so with a full command of the facts. But maybe this is what Elder Oaks means when he says that judging requires “great care.”

  11. Why is this blog so American-centric? I would to see posts that address the shortcomings of political leaders and their supporters in other countries as well. An international church deserves an international blog.

  12. There have been posts here about Huebener, his Nazi branch president, and Hitler. Hitler’s no longer a threat. Trump is.

  13. Can I judge Mike W for complaining about something but not submitting international posts of his own?

  14. Mike W, I think ideally British topics would be blogged by a group of LDS Brits, Kenyan by Kenyans, Mexico by…well, you see what I mean. Not to say it would be wrong for BCC to discuss something like Brexit, but write what you know, right?

  15. In general I’m all for an international point of view and it is often missed.
    For this particular post, I am all too aware of anti-judging rhetoric in the U.S. Church and U.S. political environment in the wake of the recent election in the U.S. It feels like a very specific U.S. problem right now. Is the same thing happening elsewhere? With respect to Brexit, for example? Not just criticism, but criticism of criticism?
    It’s a real question. I would like to know.

  16. Mike. Maybe after all is said and done, it is still so culturally an American church. But there are some excellent writers on BCC who have clearly lived out of the US, don’t live in the US at the moment, and some who are not from the US.
    Peter this is such a brilliant post I need to send cookies.

  17. man, my kids are going to be upset if they ever read anyone judging the piano guys . . .

    Seriously, I don’t disagree with anything here. And you’ve appropriately qualified your own assertions to infuse (I didn’t say cloak) them with charity. Knowing them somewhat personally, I think the Piano Guys are extremely genuine in their explanation and intent. We can disagree with their decision, to be sure, but I truly believe they aim to assist in healing–rather than championing Trump’s divisiveness.

    My take on the inauguration? It is a celebration of America–and a divinely-inspired (if culturally/morally deficient in many respects) constitution that governs the governors. The party will begin and end tomorrow. People won’t remember or frankly care who sang or played. But after the party, . . . the reality. May we all find a way to impose appropriate checks, balances, . . . and judgments . . . on whatever awaits us.

  18. I see nothing to celebrate in this inauguration. I will be praying: for wisdom to the loyal opposition, and for God’s mercy on all of us. I think Friday might be a good day to fast.

  19. John Mansfield says:

    Since many writing here have thought in detail about why the upcoming inaugurations should not be celebrated or endorsed in any way, perhaps you have some advice regarding the following situation: In Montgomery County, Maryland (north of and adjacent to the District of Columbia) and in Prince George’s County, Maryland (east of and adjacent to the District of Columbia), public schools will be closed Friday. County offices in Prince George’s will also be closed “in honor” of the inauguration. The vote for Trump in those counties was 20% and 8%. Montgomery schools never closed for Inauguration Day before this, and Prince George’s schools only did so once, in 2009 after a decision by the school board the previous November 13th, so it’s not a long-standing tradition or obligation.

    What should students and teachers in those counties do on Friday? I considered writing to Montgomery County’s school superintendent to ask, but blog commenting is less work.

  20. John, letter writing is a noble pastime.

  21. John Mansfield says:

    An error above: Montgomery County’s school board also voted to close for the 2009 inauguration, not only for 2009, but for all future Inauguration Days. (In 2013, Inauguration Day combined with MLK Day.) But read this part of the statement the school board issued on Dec. 9, 2008:

    The resolution, put forward by Board member Christopher Barclay, was passed unanimously. “I am very pleased that the Board decided to close the schools on Inauguration Day, not only on January 20, 2009, but from this point forward,” said Mr. Barclay. “Our students and their families can celebrate the inauguration of our country’s president.”

    Someone needs to reach out to Mr. Barclay for comment in 2017.

  22. Mike W., your point is well taken. I happen to reside outside the US (stay tuned for a “foreign” post in the near future!), but when one looks at the blog stats almost all the readers are American so I often end up writing to them. Still, a more international perspective would be good, I think.

  23. rd, I too believe The Piano Guys are sincere, though I also believe they dramatically overstate their case. Still, I hope they accomplish what they set out to do.

  24. christiankimball, when the right-wing candidate in Austria’s presidential election this year managed to nullify the election he narrowly lost, which meant he got a do-over, there was a similar sentiment–the establishment had been pwned due to its own failures, now it’s time to shut up and get out of the way.

    Fortunately, in my view anyway, that message didn’t resonate and reason prevailed. I wrote about it in passing here: https://bycommonconsent.com/2016/12/04/celebrating-advent

  25. If the American constitution is divinely inspired, that implies some unpleasant things about God, considering how much of the constitution was designed to placate the slave states (including the lovely electoral college–thanks guys!) Now, the Bill of Rights, or the 13th-15th Amendments, I could see as divine…even the 16th! (“render unto Caesar”)

  26. yep, Nepos, as I said the U.S. constitution certainly has some moral/cultural deficiencies. They shouldn’t be overlooked. But as with the prophet of our restoration, nor should it be dismissed for its deficiencies.

  27. jkc: “But to the extent that Elder Oaks is saying that the only thing off limits is judging a person’s final salvific state and everything else is fair game, I think that’s too narrow a reading of the commandment not to judge.”

    Elder Oak’s actually talks about making intermediary judgments in a righteous manner. For example: the fourth element he outlines of a righteous judgment:
    “Fourth, we should, if possible, refrain from judging until we have adequate knowledge of the facts……..“We do not need to judge nearly so much as we think we do. This is the age of snap judgments……The scriptures give a specific caution against judging where we cannot know all the facts. King Benjamin taught:…And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance” (Mosiah 4:17–18, 22).”

    Here is the link to Elder Oaks talk:
    “https://www.lds.org/ensign/1999/08/judge-not-and-judging?lang=eng”

  28. Aussie Mormon says:

    If you traitorous colonists hadn’t decided that you were better than Mother England, none of this would have happened. :P

  29. Aussie Mormon says:

    or is that too harsh of a judgement?

  30. Our non-LDS boy scouts rode a red-eye Amtrak to Washington DC this last weekend and tromped around the usual patriotic sites for 3 days and a total of 27 miles. It was chaotic since it was boy-planned and boy-lead. The highlight of the trip for them was the midnight jaunt to as close to the white house as allowed. There the older boys (15-17 year olds) stripped down to underwear made to look like American flags and danced wildly while waving Trump banners in the cold (35 F) rain and while recording it on their digital devices for girlfriends back home.

    I don’t like Trump, he is unacceptable. But he taps into something emotional and irrational in these suburban scouts (wealthy-they can afford multi-day “camping” trips hundreds of miles long). Of the 45 scouts who went, 43 are strong supporters of Trump. In energy and brashness it hauntingly reminds me of the early days of the hippie movement. Except I don’t understand it.

    I mentioned to them that there were pictures of Hitler’s young supporters celebrating his election in the 1930’s and most of them died in the war he started. That fell on deaf ears. I don’t know how or even if to judge them. I do have influence over them. My only path seems to be to stick with the principles in the scout oath and law. And hope for the best.

    PS Aussie Mormon: One of these boys is an Aussie and spends summers back home . He was featured there on a local TV discussion panel: American teen explains why he likes Trump. He is intelligent, articulate and made some rational arguments. He predicted Trump would win and the polls would prove to be wrong. He was attacked and ridiculed with that famous down-under snark. He proved to be amazingly right.

  31. Am I the only one who is sure King Noah and the president-elect have the same interior decorator?

  32. Aussie Mormon says:

    Mike: Ridiculing Americans, Kiwis, and the British is an Australian pastime :P

  33. Aussie Mormon says:

    “Am I the only one who is sure King Noah and the president-elect have the same interior decorator?”

    I’m not sure about that, but having a couple of pet leopards would be pretty cool. Assuming I didn’t have to feed them or clean up after them of course.

  34. Left Field says:

    Jaguars, not leopards. Just sayin’

  35. Aussie Mormon says:

    That makes a lot more sense. I was wondering why a mesoamerican would have some asian cats.

  36. Miracle of miracles! Trump brings Mormon leftists’ to defend the passing of righteous judgement, and to justify doing so by reference to their bête noir no less. Do please keep the salt coming.

  37. Left Field says:

    Long ago, on the internet, someone made the claim that the Book of Mormon was obviously false because there are no leopards in the New World, as depicted in the book. I pointed out that the cats in Friberg’s painting were jaguars, and besides, whether they were jaguars, leopards, or Cheshire cats, they were entirely the product of the artist’s imagination, not the Book of Mormon. It was all to no avail. The guy thought Noah’s cats looked like leopards, the picture was in the Book of Mormon, and so there are leopards in the Book of Mormon. Case closed.

  38. Wilhelm, it’s an awkward place, to be sure, to be reminding Mormon conservatives of their roots.

  39. So by the graphics selected, the President-elect is no subtly longer associated with Kim Jong-Un. He is now subtly associated with King Noah. His supporters by implication are neatly arrayed around the room while his critics stand in chains. I am not at all convinced this is a righteous judgement or comes close to resembling reality. It might reflect reality if the President-elect puts the leaders of the Church in chains or the posters of BCC in chains, but I don’t see that happening. Until then, or until he does something impeachable, I think it wouldn’t hurt to consider using kinder words about all our duly elected political leaders at the start of the new term. I think that would be the example of Elders Christofferson and Stevenson.

  40. Geez, Leo, I put “best” and “Trump” in the HEADLINE, and you still find something to complain about. But fair enough–your interpretation is one that occurred to me when I went looking for a graphic (though you neglect Alma’s redemption in your take). What I actually intended to highlight, however, was the absurdity of the claim that judgment is off limits by portraying a scene with a straightforward message about good and evil.

  41. John Mansfield, I would welcome turning inauguration day into a national (i.e., not just federal, state or local) holiday. If nothing else, the time off would give us something to unite around, and a holiday for the people would give more credence to the claim that the event is a national celebration (rather than, say, a victory lap for the incoming president and his supporters).

  42. Aussie Mormon says:

    I’d say get rid of the whole big festival type ceremony completely.
    Short speech to media, then go inside and say the oath, sign the documents, pose for photos and then get on with the job.

  43. rebeccadalmas says:

    I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we on the right are confounding eternal with intermediate judgment. After all, we’ve been claiming moral Christian authority in politics for several election cycles. As a group, we’ve allowed our political ideologies to become religious dogma, therefore we’ve primed ourselves to seek a spiritual leader in the president elect and now too many conservatives are twisting into knots to somehow pretend Trump is worthy of it.

    But he’s woefully, woefully not. And politics is not religion. The state may be blessed by Christianity but it is not to be a tool of Christianity.

  44. Should Inauguration Day be a holiday? Maybe, but only if Election Day is a holiday first. Let’s make it easy for everyone to vote. One of the reasons that this inauguration is so disturbing is that it was made possible by years of shameful efforts to make it more difficult to cast a vote.

  45. Loursat–as far as Republicans are concerned, that’s a feature, not a bug. Rather than change their policies to appeal to minorities, they just try to keep the minorities from voting.

    It was a great loss for our country when the Republicans embraced their identity as the party of white supremacy.

  46. John Mansfield says:

    Harpo Marx wrote a delightful account of the great Election Day celebrations of his childhood, which unfortunately went hand-in-hand with voter fraud:

    There was one supreme holiday every two years, and there was nothing sad about it. This was not a family affair. It belonged to everybody. The poorest kind in town had as much a share in it as the mayor himself.
    [. . .]
    The great holiday lasted a full thirty hours. On election eve, the Tammany forces marched up and down the avenues by torchlight, with bugles blaring and drums booming. There was free beer for the men, and free firecrackers and punk for the kids, and nobody slept that night.

    When the Day itself dawned, the city closed up shop and had itself a big social time—visiting with itself, renewing old acquaintances, kicking up old arguments—and voted.

    About noon a hansom cab, courtesy of Tammany Hall, would pull up in front of our house. Frenchie [Harpo’s father] and Grandpa, dressed in their best suits (which they otherwise wore only to weddings, bar mitzahs or funerals, would get in the cab and go clip-clop, in tip-top style, off to the polls. When the carriage brought them back they sat in the hansom as long as they could without the driver getting sore, savoring every moment of their glory while they puffed on their free Tammany cigars.

    At last, reluctantly, they would descend to the curb, and Frenchie would make the grand gesture of handing the cabbie a tip. Kids watching in the streets and neighbors watching from upstairs windows were properly impressed.

    About a half-hour later, the hansom cab would reappear, and Frenchie and Grandpa would go off to vote again. If it was a tough year, with a Reform movement threatening the city, they’d be taken to vote a third time.

    Nobody was concerned over the fact that Grandpa happened not to be a United States citizen, or that he couldn’t read or write English. He knew which side of the ballot to put his “X” on. That was the important thing. Besides, Grandpa’s son-in-law’s cousin was Sam Marx, a Big Man in the Organization. Cousin Sam had a lot to say about whose name appeared under a black star on the ballot. And it was he who made sure the carriage was sent to 179 at voting time. A man of principle, which Grandpa was, had no choice but to return the courtesy by voting.

    Then came the Night. The streets were cleared of horses, buggies and wagons. All crosstown traffic stopped. At seven o’clock firecrackers began to go off, the signal that the polls were closed. Whooping and hollering, a whole generation of kids came tumbling down out of the tenements and got their bonfires going. By a quarter after seven, the East Side was ablaze.
    [. . .]
    Grandpa enjoyed the sight as much as I did, and he was flattered when I left the rest of the boys to come up to share it with him. He pulled his chair closer to the window and lit the butt of his Tammany stogie. “Ah, we are lucky to be in America,” he said in German, taking a deep drag on the cigar he got for voting illegally and lifting his head to watch the shooting flames. “Ah, yes! This is true democracy.”

    I had no idea what Grandpa was talking about, but he was a man of great faith and whatever he said was the truth.

  47. Nepos, important to remember that the GOP like the Democratic party is made up of coalitions. Just like I’m sure you don’t like all parts of the D coalition for most Rs there are parts they don’t like. Indeed one can see the rise of Trump as much as due to significant infighting over the issue of appealing to minorities as anything. It was Rubio vs. Trump. Unfortunately Rubio melted down and the media gave Trump billions in free advertising during the primaries (partially because they thought Clinton would have a better chance beating him). But if you remember the aftermath of 08 the GOP was doing a pretty strong push for minorities. I think some of us were simply surprised at some of the backlash to that.

  48. Nice, John. If there’s anything that could make this whole experience more bearable, it would be having the Marx Brothers around to provide running commentary.

  49. DeepThink says:

    You’re conflating judging/not judging with certain ways to address it. I actually read pretty clear judgment in the piano guys statement…against bullying, disrespecting women, etc. There are many ways to make a statement. Theirs is valid, as is that of the boycotters.

  50. Judging’s no fun. Let’s go for predicting instead. I give the Republican House about 18 months, maximum, before they are forced to impeach Trump. On what issue? Well, that’s tough. Take your pick. If Jason Chaffetz were not such a partisan toady, he could dig up any number of impeachable offenses.

  51. That’s a cute story about Tammany Hall, but I suppose it needs to be said: if we’re not determined to do better than that for our own grandchildren, then we might as well pack it in. We can do better.

  52. @peterllc “reminding” as euphemism for “concern trolling.” I like it. Obvious concern-trolling OP is obvious.

  53. “Jesus does not tell us to be stupid.” That never stopped anyone.

  54. Was this post a response to the opinion piece in the Deseret News yesterday? It was written by a Mormon guy telling Mormons to quit judging Trump. Basically, it said we’re supposed to give Trump a chance. It then concluded with a part about how Mormons are supposed to be family values people and Trump has a great family. I’m judging so hard it hurts.

  55. Martin, that would seem to be the case.

    Anyone who says that a guy who dragged two wives through the tabloid mud, cheated rampantly and publicly, and notoriously ignored all of his children until adulthood (except the daughter with whom he has a relationship that’s really kinda creepy!) “has a great family” has no business speaking in public about anything and ought to consider a career as a lighthouse keeper.

  56. Trump getting elected really had nothing to do with how many minorities were able to vote. In my opinion, president-elect Trump is a product of the Left. They pushed, and pushed, and pushed, and guess what? A bunch of people in this country got tired of it and pushed back (I wasn’t one of them).

  57. Ad concern trolling—I’ll allow the possibility that I’m deceiving myself, but the concern is real. That is to say, I am truly disappointed that the MoTab will be singing at the inauguration and I genuinely believe that the arguments put forward by people who otherwise spend their time counselling others to stand in holy places warrant a response.

  58. Judging is important. I have withheld judgment and trusted to my detriment and to my family’s.

    Withholding judgment is important when doing will not effect one’s emotional health or physical safety.

    I’m speaking from a place of personal pain.

    But I don’t see why the same wisdom doesn’t apply to national politics. National leaders can hurt people.

    Give someone a chance, after they have already shown you who they are…and it’s nother nice?

    That is how abused people continue to be abused. Or people stand by and watch it happen.

  59. “Keep your friends close, your enemies closer”- Godfather
    The prophets are wise to start near then the will how and when to separate.

  60. Yeah, and hug your friends tight but your enemies tighter so they can’t whack you. Good pragmatic advice, I suppose.

  61. Professor Lockhart says:

    The “holy places” comment sparked this somewhat tangential thought. If you consider a prayer circle in the temple, and someone else in the circle was known to have said bigoted or womanizing things, should you withdraw?

    Trump is in many ways the product of our depraved culture. I wouldn’t be shocked to see that 40% of the country would behave much worse than he has if they had his wealth and power.

    I don’t mind Motab performing because I’ve accepted that the church makes a lot of decisions that might look like compromising our values. The fundamentalist side of me would much rather see the church denounce so many ungodly things about our government and society. Would to God that we could just be asked to sell everything we own, be asked to move to a dirt field somewhere and die trying to build Zion together.

    When I imagine that stereotypical fundementalist so many like to judge in the church, someone who we’e never never met and can’t fairly judge harshly anyway, I imagine stalwart Brigham Young. I can see Brigham Young getting up and denouncing anyone who would support the choir singing at Trump’s inauguration, and I can equally see him being upset at the rabble rousing and telling people to get over it and to look after their own sins rather than judge the actions of the church. But the former denouncement, I have a hard time seeing him doing if he were not in the position of authority.

    To square the circle…Probably my biggest worry over all this is if with this back and forth posting is if people become so entrenched against each other in the church that they feel they need to stand outside that circle for lack of having the best of feelings toward a fellow brother or sister in the church.

  62. Clark Goble says:

    Trump is the product of the depraved culture of 50 years ago. Let’s be honest. His actions in the 70’s & 80’s were pretty common. We’ve improved as a culture since then, although there are still too many people like Trump. But there really is a generation gap. I think a lot of people fearing Trump fear him precisely because they fear a return to that era.

  63. Clark, Trump as a person may be the product of a depraved culture of 50 years ago, but his election as president can at least partially be blamed on liberal culture/politics.

  64. Clark Goble says:

    Mike I think his election depends upon both the failings of conservative culture which promoting “how much someone fights” above experience and policy specifics as much as backlash to liberal culture. And the fact that neither conservatives nor liberals really seek to understand one an other or view each other through an eye of charity.

  65. I see plenty of people who dislike Trump adding to one of the key problems towards the end of the reign of King Noah. Mosiah 19 reads that the forces of the king had been reduced and that there was a division among the people. This division lead to violence with Gideon pursuing and attempting to kill the king. There also is an absence of the military intelligence that helped King Zeniff prepare for the previous large invasion. This blog post and many others like it do not make mention of defense or intelligence policy, but they do contribute to divisions among the people. The great majority of US LDS voted against President Obama, but the official and semi-official church representatives did not oppose him as an anti-american radical and communist, although he associated himself with those who clearly were such. Instead, most opposition was to specific policies and decisions, which allowed some common ground to be maintained and minimized the divisiveness of the discussion. This was especially true early on in the Obama presidency.

  66. marsha calhoun says:

    I do not share your religion, but I deeply appreciate your reasoning – it articulates something I’ve been trying to say myself for many years. When we think of judgment as a negative thing, we have little left but to accept whatever we are handed unquestioningly, and surely that is not a proper use of the brains we are born with.

  67. My only judgment here is that I wish Mormons could discuss politics without trying to awkwardly force the Book of Mormon and General Authority quotes into the conversation. It’s a weird, cultural thing we do. When I talk politics with people of other faiths, they usually just state their opinion. They don’t feel the need to provide supporting references in the Bible or quote the Dalai Lama or Billy Graham.

    I don’t know. We really are a peculiar people.

  68. Marc, appeals to authority are a time-honored if not necessarily effective means of argumentation. Everybody does it, it’s just that most people don’t regard GAs and the Book of Mormon as authorities.

    Thanks, marsha calhoun.

  69. Peterllc, it is not the appeal to authority I am questioning. But when a church explicitly states that it is non-partisan, it is bizarre that members cite religious quotes to support their partisan beliefs. I just wish we could discuss politics on the merits, rather than insisting the Book of Mormon supports us.

    And no, other people don’t constantly cite their religious authorities to support their politics, in my experience.

  70. Marc, I meant everybody makes appeals to authority. As for the Church being non-partisan, well, I suppose in a narrow sense that is true in that it doesn’t tell its membership how to vote. However, it does engage actively in political issues that it considers have a moral component relevant to its mission–see Proposition 8. In addition, GAs and regular members alike are constantly invoking scriptures and prophets in supporting their private partisan beliefs–see Elder Benson. I wish Church was a spin-free zone, but it isn’t and it happens to tilt towards what used to be conservative American political positions, now replaced by respect for the office or something.

  71. You have forgotten the context:

    For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again

    If you are happy that the judgement you have made should be applied to you, go for it. In that regard I judge Donald Trump to be a sociopathic idiot.