3 quotes I like better than the musket stuff

When I worked at BYU’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute I was aware of Elder Maxwell’s musket analogy that Elder Holland recently borrowed. The Institute had been tasked with fortifying the faith of Latter-day Saints, which includes apologetics, or defending the faith, so we spent a lot of time thinking about it. I helped cultivate a style of apologetics that exhibited charity, curiosity, flexibility, and strength.

Not everyone was satisfied. Elder Maxwell was often cited as calling for more aggression with his metaphors about muskets and slam dunks. But in all my time at the Institute those analogies didn’t resonate with me. I was more drawn to this counsel from then-Elder Henry B. Eyring, who called the one of the Institute’s predecessors (FARMS) to a undertake a ceasefire back in 1994:

Quote #1: Gentleness

Because you know that the value of your work lies less in convincing and more in inviting people to seek truth by prayer, you have exemplified another virtue. You have tried to be models of kindness in your dialogue with others, especially with those with whom you disagree. You know that a spirit of contention will drive away the very influence by which they can know truth. That has led you to shun ridicule. It has led you to avoid the temptation of playing to the already converted, seeking their applause by trying to make your adversary appear the fool. It is easy to gain the laughter of an appreciative crowd who delight to see the truth defended with boldness and strength, but you have remembered that the heart you wish to touch may hear derision in that laughter and so turn away. Your civility and gentleness could bless all associations of scholars, whatever they may be studying together.” [PDF]

When you look at the context of that address, it becomes clear that Elder Eyring was correcting the apologists with aspirational praise. Too few had been exemplifying what he described. Several apologists frequently exhibited belligerence, arrogance, mockery, and scorn in their publications. Some still do today.

Elder Holland (following Oaks following Maxwell) recently called again for muskets. I’ve seen this play out before. Calling for more muskets only calls forth more muskets all around, creating a spiral of rhetorical violence (to say nothing of the scary threats that some unstable person might be emboldened to carry out under presumed apostolic instruction, including a death threat I received while working at BYU). When we see different people react differently to the call for firearms we’re seeing differences of opinion about what exactly is being called for. Elder Holland left a lot up to the imagination.

When I think of muskets I think of aggression, carnage, revenge. Jerkiness begets jerkiness. I know this because I’ve participated in it. I’ve experienced it. I’m not resisting the musket stuff on the grounds that it makes me feel icky. I resist it because I kind of like it sometimes. I recognize the rhetorically violent impulses in myself and I’m afraid of letting those impulses have full sway.

So why does the musket thing keep getting cited, not something like Eyring’s words? As I said, there are competing models of Latter-day Saint apologetics, especially considering tone and approach. General Authorities have a huge trove of past speeches and sermons to draw from when they write talks today. There are competing views on a number of issues in these old repositories, so although present leaders are bound in some ways by their predecessors they also have options and exercise agency. They can selectively choose who to quote, what to emphasize, and make a point that they already wanted to make. So I believe Elder Holland meant what he said, including the fact that he looks forward to the day when rhetorical swords can be beaten into gardening tools, when we “learn war no more,” borrowing scriptural phrases.

What’s stopping us from doing that right now? Today? The old Primary song, “Kindness begins with me” comes to mind.

According to Elder Holland we’ll have to keep learning war and brandishing muskets/swords because “there will continue to be those who oppose our teachings.” But maybe we don’t have to respond with muskets and swords at all. Sure, there are plenty of examples in Christian and Mormon history of what I’ve elsewhere called smashmouth apologetics. Scripture itself contains plenty of harshness. It also offers reason to resist replicating such harshness. Scripture is complicated. I feel a moral imperative to resist musketry.

Again, I’m not perfect. I have my own snarky thorn in the flesh to contend with. I fight. I sometimes let my anger at what I see as unjust situations boil over into rage at perceived perpetrators. But in my better moments I see how ineffective and soul-poisoning that approach truly is.

Quote 2: Christian courage

So I want to hold to Eyring’s vision and reject the musket. I’m more inspired and much more challenged by the words of Elder Eyring, whose sentiments are also reflected in a Conference address by Elder Robert D. Hales. File these quotes away for reference when other members or leaders call for muskets:

“Recently a group of bright, faithful young Latter-day Saints wrote down some of the most pressing questions on their minds. One sister asked, ‘Why doesn’t the Church defend itself more actively when accusations are made against it?’

“To her inquiry I would say that one of mortality’s great tests comes when our beliefs are questioned or criticized. In such moments, we may want to respond aggressively—to put up our dukes. But these are important opportunities to step back, pray, and follow the Savior’s example. Remember that Jesus Himself was despised and rejected by the world. And in Lehi’s dream, those coming to the Savior also endured mocking and pointing fingers. But when we respond to our accusers as the Savior did, we not only become more Christ-like, we invite others to feel His love and follow Him as well.

“To respond in a Christ-like way cannot be scripted or based on a formula. The Savior responded differently in every situation. When He was confronted by wicked King Herod, He remained silent. When He stood before Pilate, He bore a simple and powerful testimony of His divinity and purpose. Facing the moneychangers who were defiling the temple, He exercised His divine responsibility to preserve and protect that which was sacred. Lifted up upon a cross, He uttered the incomparable Christian response: Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

“Some people mistakenly think responses such as silence, meekness, forgiveness, and bearing humble testimony are passive or weak. But to love our enemies, bless them that curse us, do good to them that hate us, and pray for them which despitefully use us, and persecute us takes faith, strength, and, most of all, Christian courage.”

Quote #3: Conflict versus contention

To Eyring and Hales’s witness we can add Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s address delivered at BYU earlier this month:

Our Lord Jesus Christ—our model of ­perfection—did not live a life free of conflict…What was His response? To some, He did not speak a word. To others, He spoke the simple truth—not in anger but with calm majesty. As others contended with Him, He stood in His place—trusting in His Father, calm in His testimony, and firm in the truth.

“Conflict is inevitable. It is a condition of mortality. It is part of our test. Contention, however, is a choice. It is one way that some people choose to respond to conflict. When we contend with others, we cause discord, dissension, resentment, and even rage. Harmful emotions almost always accompany contention: anger, hurt, jealousy, hostility, revenge, and malice—to name just a few.”

He goes on from there, but you get the point. Latter-day Saints love backing up our claims and actions with quotes from General Authorities. So now you have access to three great sources to invoke when someone tries to enlist you into a rhetorical shootout using the words of apostles. These other leaders (and at other times, Elder Holland himself!) have encouraged us to exemplify greater charity, not seek better artillery, when discussing and defending the Gospel of Peace.

There are more. Add a favorite in the comments!


SOURCES

*Henry B. Eyring, “The Marketplace of Ideas,” An address delivered at the annual FARMS banquet, 13 October, 1994. Speech transcript in my possession.

*Robert D. Hales: “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship,” October 2008 General Conference.

*Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Five Messages That All of God’s Children Need to Hear,” BYU Speeches, August 2021.

Bonus Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 13. Alma 31:5. Doctrine and Covenants 50:17-24.

**PS- It’s nice to be back at BCC!

Comments

  1. Returning from a long hiatus.

  2. Welcome back! This is a much, much needed post. Thank you.

  3. Thanks Hunter!

  4. Lovely work Blair. If we want to change the dialogue we need to change the terms of conversation. One that I love from Gordon B Hinckley is embedded in a rather schmaltzy speech on love and marriage that he gave at BYU on Valentines Day back in 1978:

    “Love is the only force that can compose the differences between people that can bridge the chasms of bitterness and animosity that so frequently and violently separate us. I call to mind these telling lines of Edwin Markham:

    He drew a circle that shuts me out—
    Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
    But love and I had the wit to win:
    We drew a circle that took him in.
    [The Book of American Poetry, p. 265]

    In St. Martin’s Place in the city of London, across from the National Gallery, is a beautiful statue of a woman in a nurse’s uniform. It is erected to the memory of Edith Cavell, the English nurse who shielded wounded Allied soldiers from the enemy. She was caught and summarily executed. The inscription on her monument reads: “Brussels Dawn, October 12, 1915. Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness toward anyone.”

    https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/gordon-b-hinckley/greatest-of-these-love/

  5. Welcome back Blair! And thanks for this thoughtful response to Elder Holland’s talk!

  6. This may be slightly orthogonal, but I really liked this counsel from the current church self-help manuals:

    “If you decide to share your experiences of feeling same-sex attraction or to openly identify as gay, you should be supported and treated with kindness and respect, both at home and in church. We all need to be patient with each other as we figure things out.

    As Church members, we all have a responsibility to create a supportive and loving environment for all our brothers and sisters. Such a support network makes it much easier to live the gospel and to seek the Spirit while navigating any aspect of mortality.”

    https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/same-sex-attraction-individuals/should-i-tell-others?lang=eng

  7. This is a great article – thank you for writing and sharing it, especially on this blog. It’s articles like this one that keep me returning to BCC.

  8. Welcome back, Blair ^_^. Thought I should chip in my voice, that these rhetorical musket wars have real consequences. For me, the usage of ad hominem within FARMS, and poor apologetics (beginning with “No, Ma’am, That’s Not History” and especially “Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass”), left me disgusted with the whole enterprise. The internecine conflict between heartlanders and the mesoamericanists added additional fuel to that fire. Although my interest in textual criticism and ancient studies put a final nail in the coffin of my naive beliefs, it was my exposure to especially 1990’s apologetics (and the lack of awareness of a community like this blog) that prevented me from transitioning to a healthier, more nuanced faith rather than rejecting the whole enterprise altogether.

  9. Elizabeth Tower says:

    “When you look at the context of that address, it becomes clear that Elder Eyring was correcting the apologists with aspirational praise.”

    I knew about death of the author in literary theory, but never realized just how dead he has to be for Blair’s reading to make sense. Eyring’s address is full of unstinting praise throughout. There is not a hint that he was passively-aggressively “correcting” with anything like opaque “aspirational praise.”

    Blair has to actively misconstrue Eyring to create that impression. The question is, why?

    The entire address can be found here. https://etherscave.blogspot.com/2014/11/a-treasure-from-past-elder-henry-b.html?m=1&fbclid=IwAR2xXqL8KPhgNF7dkRRcjurYHXNwL_IS6UA5ow22zHx_lVQKkAN2S-tPIBg

    “A clear declaration of the truth is powerful enough, because truth exists and there is a Spirit of truth to confirm it. Because you believe that, your writing shows a trust in the clear declarative statement, without jargon, that would bless scholars and their readers in every field.

    And because you proceed from confidence in the power of truth, your work with the Book of Mormon also leads you to exemplify another quality of great potential value to the world of scholars. That is modesty. Because you know that the Book of Mormon does not require your proof, you have been far more cautious than you might have been in offering evidence in its support. You know that few things could harm truth more than to defend it with a bad argument. And that has led you to be careful both in the evidence you have presented and in the conclusions you have drawn from it. You have sublimated the desire for personal recognition, which so often leads people to claim too much too soon. Much time and wrangling could be saved in the world of scholars if they could avoid the controversy so often engendered by attempts to be first in the race for the rewards of possible recognition or even riches. You are blessed to sense the value in getting what you do right, which drives you to labor long, and the tragic price of getting it wrong, which gives you the patience to go back to check it again and again.

    Because you know that the value of your work lies less in convincing and more in inviting people to seek truth by prayer, you have exemplified another virtue. You have tried to be models of kindness in your dialogue with others, especially with those with whom you disagree. You know that a spirit of contention will drive away the very influence by which they can know truth. That has led you to shun ridicule. It has led you to avoid the temptation of playing to the already converted, seeking their applause by trying to make your adversary appear the fool. It is easy to gain the laughter of an appreciative crowd who delight to see the truth defended with boldness and strength, but you have remembered that the heart you wish to touch may hear derision in that laughter and so turn away. Your civility and gentleness could bless all associations of scholars, whatever they may be studying together.

    The Lord himself has described a company of students following such lofty and effective rules. Listen to his directions:

    And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

    Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God; . . .

    Appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege.

    See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires.

    Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.

    And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.

    Pray always, that ye may not faint, until I come. Behold, and lo, I will come quickly, and receive you unto myself. Amen” (D&C 88:118-119, 122-26).

    With confidence that there is truth which can edify, with humility which will protect your integrity, and with kindness toward each other and those you hope to invite rather than to vanquish, you will continue to prosper in receiving the help of heaven and you will be an example for good among scholars everywhere.”

  10. Hi Elizabeth Tower. I already linked to the entire Eyring address in the post.

    “I knew about death of the author in literary theory, but never realized just how dead he has to be for Blair’s reading to make sense. Eyring’s address is full of unstinting praise throughout. There is not a hint that he was passively-aggressively “correcting” with anything like opaque “aspirational praise.” Blair has to actively misconstrue Eyring to create that impression. The question is, why

    Muskets ahoy.

    Elder Eyring delivered his address just months after FARMS had provoked an uproar when Bill Hamblin thought it would be funny to sneak an acronym into the FARMS Review that said “Metcalfe is Butthead.” The joke was in reference to Brent Metcalfe who had edited a volume depicting the Book of Mormon as a 19th century text rather than an ancient one. Hamblin’s point was that sophisticated literary devices in the Book of Mormon couldn’t be accidental as some of Metcalfe’s contributors argued, any more than “Metcalfe is Butthead” could be. The prank appeared in that 500-plus page FARMS Review volume which focused on the book. The FR had some good insights, and it also had plenty of ego and playing things up for the crowd. Including the juvenile insult. Eyring truly appreciated much of FARMS’s work. But he didn’t appreciate seeing the church in the news for the antics of apologists and wanted them to do better.

    The apologists will of course deny this to their graves. It’s one of the reasons I think Elder Eyring could have been more effective had he been more direct. But in 1994 FARMS was independent and he was a relatively junior apostle speaking at their own banquet by invitation. Eventually FARMS would be brought into BYU and under closer scrutiny and direction of General Authorities, as it remains to this day.

  11. I forgot to mention, the apologist flap received coverage in Sunstone, the Salt Lake Tribune, and even the Deseret News. It was very widely known.

  12. Alain, Matt, Bensen, Jacob, Sam, and Matt, thanks for the comments, and the additional sources!

  13. Roger Hansen says:

    I don’t understand the need for apologists. I think they are mostly an embarrassment, particularly the old-guard militant apologists. They go about things the wrong way. For example, they start out with the premise that the BoM is an ancient record and set out to prove it. You have the conclusion before you start the study.

    I would rather Church members lead by example. Be good Christians. Love your neighbor. I would turn the Maxwell institute into an International do-gooder research organization.

  14. In “The Doorway of Love,” Thomas S. Monson quotes the Camelot musical: “Violence is not strength. Compassion is not weakness.”

  15. Anita Davis says:

    Thank you Blair Hodges. Just thank you. Anita Davis.

  16. Is there no place for Abinadi, Captain Moroni, or Samuel the Lamanite?

  17. Your sources repeatedly mention variations of bearing “a simple and powerful testimony.” I believe that in today’s environment, “a simple and powerful testimony” of the truths contained in the family proclamation including the doctrine that eternal marriage is only between a man and a woman would absolutely be considered “musket fire.”

    Two follow up questions for you Blair:

    When/where have you born “a simple and powerful testimony” of those truths?

    Is there an author or speaker you think does a good job bearing “a simple and powerful testimony” of the doctrine of the family (including that eternal marriage is only between a man and a woman) without crossing the line into combativeness?

  18. DB: Two of your exemplars (Ab & Sam) could not be more appropriate examples of behavior for Apostle Holland to emulate, i.e. standing firm and immovable, even to the point of putting one’s life on the line, to declare what you feel is a message from the Lord. But musket fire is not firm and immovable. It provides a projectile that is designed to produce death and destruction in everything from war to firing squads. It’s image is one that screams “if you don’t agree with me, you’re goin’ down”.

    Elder Holland is so brilliant and typically careful. This means that his choice of words were well thought out in advance. To me, this is very puzzling.

  19. Elizabeth Tower says:

    Have to say your “aspirational praise” is a brilliant way to read a text and make it say the exact opposite of what the author was saying. Tell me, Blair, do you apply it consistently? If someone was saying you were a good podcast host, do they really mean you suck at it? Can you share examples of “aspirational praise” being a thing in the way you mean it?

  20. Roger, I understand and relate to your feelings about apologists. I think the term has been commandeered by a select number of LDS folks who have helped give it a bad name for a lot of folks. At root, the idea of “defending” one’s faith, if taken as the main component of discipleship, can warp a person’s religious life. There are plenty of times when I have to defend particular beliefs and values and in that sense I’m an apologist as well. But to me discipleship has tor encompass way more than that.

    Dirtbag, I’m a jack pacifist right now (similar to a Jack Mormon). I don’t have a lot of use for military scripture, though the Book of Mormon thankfully has many other passages that spiritually nourish me.

    Hi Anita Davis!!!

    Daniel Ortner:
    Your sources repeatedly mention variations of bearing “a simple and powerful testimony.” I believe that in today’s environment, “a simple and powerful testimony” of the truths contained in the family proclamation including the doctrine that eternal marriage is only between a man and a woman would absolutely be considered “musket fire.”

    That’s true, it can! What concerns me more is the Church’s virtual lack of effort to nourish the lives of most LGBTQ members. We are so hyper-fixated on emphasizing marriage between a man and women (and I say women deliberately, I think it says a lot how you and so many others want to quietly slip past the ongoing polygamous nature of Latter-day Sant marriage) that we present LGBTQ folks with what amounts to a negative theology. Here’s what you can’t do. Here’s what you CAN’T be. Here’s how you CAN’T live, and that matters more than virtually anything else. To the point where we stopped baptizing children who had gay parents for a time!

    When/where have you born “a simple and powerful testimony” of those truths?

    This kind of orthodoxy examination is typical of those who elevate the Proclamation over the two great commandments. (Although you’d object and say fulfilling the two great commandments encompasses the Proclamation, but effectively it’s clear what matters most to you.) I don’t bear witness of documents. I bear witness of Christ. I can testify of scripture insofar as it points me to Christ. I can bear witness of prophets insofar as they point me to Christ. The trouble for orthodoxy police like you is that you are up against your own epistemology. I know in largely the same way and for many of the same reasons that restricting loving relationships of gay folks is wrong as I know Jesus is the Christ.

    Let’s take a look at your orthodoxy. Is the only way to reach the highest degree of glory by entering into plural marriage, one man with multiple women?

    Is there an author or speaker you think does a good job bearing “a simple and powerful testimony” of the doctrine of the family (including that eternal marriage is only between a man and a woman) without crossing the line into combativeness?

    I think the Proclamation itself doesn’t have a lot of combativeness. It makes controversial assertions and it’s certainly harmful in the way it restricts and distorts sex and gender roles, but it isn’t exactly musket fire to me.

    Elizabeth Tower: It’s not the opposite. I’ve laid out the context of the address and you’ve responded by asserting I’m wrong, without addressing the context. I’ve spoken with people who were in the room and who understood exactly what Elder Eyring was doing and what he intended. There was a lot of resistance within FARMS when BYU invited them to become part of the university, in part because they understood there would be more oversight and there were differences of opinion about how to go about defending the faith, including with regard to tone. Those differences of opinion continue today, even among church hierarchy.

    It seems important to you to keep the reputation of FARMS clean. Most people who aren’t already convinced that FARMS was above reproach can see Elder Eyring’s direction exactly for what it is. Your defense looks silly.

  21. ‘I believe that in today’s environment, “a simple and powerful testimony” of the truths contained in the family proclamation including the doctrine that eternal marriage is only between a man and a woman would absolutely be considered “musket fire.”’

    This gave me food for though and I think I agree. If my understanding of the Proc’s beginnings are correct (that it was created to be a tool as part of the legal fight against SSM in Hawaii) then it was always meant to be a weapon. Since then, it is almost always brought up (born testimony of) in relationship to SSM. Even at church on Sundays, a common refrain is to praise the early revelatory powers of the Brethern in giving us the Proc to stand against the evils of the changing world. So much of the language around the Proc, both on Sundays and (definitely) on the internet, pretty straight-forwardly weaponize it.

    Given its genesis and the current rhetoric, I can’t see how it can ever be just a ‘simple and powerful testimony.’

    At the same time, should a complex doctrine, inconsistently applied/understood, really be considered ‘simple?’ A ‘simple and powerful testimony’ for me is the divinity of Jesus Christ and the Good News of the Gospel (Full Stop).

  22. Well said ReTx. I agree. I never covenanted to bear testimony of the 1995 Proclamation to the Family. And my commitment to sustain church leadership is not a blank check. Personal revelation, studying it out, doing the best I can with a concentrated humility—these are the ways I try to make it through. The Book of Mormon has an extremely narrow definition of the gospel. I enjoy and appreciate much of the extended Latter-day saint theology. But at the end of the day, my core of the gospel includes Christ’s love, which I have personally witnessed as being manifest in the lives of LGBTQ folks who do not adhere to heteronormativity.

  23. *Sorry, meant to say “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”

  24. Welcome back BHodges! Your perspective is just what I needed.

  25. I think the statement that the POTF is “certainly harmful in the way it restricts and distorts sex and gender roles” gets to the heart of the matter.

    I think it is rare in scriptural accounts of the Lord, telling people through a prophet something He thinks they should be doing, and the people says “yeah, that sounds reasonable.” Usually you get statements like the one above.

    This may be a case of fallible leaders being completely wrong – all 15 of them. It wouldn’t be the first time. But if they are right, we should expect people to criticize.

    The challenge I have been trying to give myself lately is rather than defaulting to the immovable position that I am right, to consider what it would feel like and how I would respond if I found out I was wrong?

  26. pconnornc : This may be a case of fallible leaders being completely wrong – all 15 of them. It wouldn’t be the first time. But if they are right, we should expect people to criticize.

    As you say, it wouldn’t be the first time they collectively did something that was later overturned, corrected, revealed to be inadequate or even damaging. This is one of the reasons the church is very protective against the idea that “doctrine” is eternal and never changes. Anyone who spends more than an hour looking into that claim will see that it simply isn’t true, but that raises questions about the need of and role for prophetic leadership. Many members of the church function with a kind of all-or-nothing mindset whereby a prophet must always be right and we must always follow the prophet, otherwise what good are prophets? From an organizational standpoint it’s an effort to prevent schism, confusion, basically a Protestant Reformation type thing where the church splinters apart. The problem is it also risks leading to people outsourcing their own agency and moral responsibility. It takes a lot less time and effort to just listen to a source and believe and do what that source says than it does to evaluate all new information critically, or “study it out.” I think a lot of members fall somewhere between those two extremes.

    Returning to Elizabeth Towers’s comment, looking again at what Elder Eyring said, did FARMS publications always “shun ridicule”? Did they invariably “avoid the temptation of playing to the already converted, seeking their applause by trying to make [their] adversary appear the fool”? Did they ever lampoon to garner some laughter? Was it ever the case that a “heart [they] wish[ed] to touch hear[d] derision in that laughter and so turn[ed] away”? Were they always full of “civility and gentleness” in every case? Certainly there was much that FARMS produced that didn’t fall into those traps. It’s a real shame that the more polemical stuff has taken on such prominence. I notice Book of Mormon Central strikes a markedly different tone. It recycles FARMS stuff, but I haven’t seen them making use of the snarky, aggressive, sarcastic, polemical things FARMS also produced. Anyone who is familiar especially with the FARMS Review should easily be able to pick up on exactly what Elder Eyring was saying. If none of those things were happening it wouldn’t have made any sense to bring them up.

  27. pconnornc: “This may be a case of fallible leaders being completely wrong – all 15 of them. It wouldn’t be the first time. But if they are right, we should expect people to criticize.

    The challenge I have been trying to give myself lately is rather than defaulting to the immovable position that I am right, to consider what it would feel like and how I would respond if I found out I was wrong?”

    If Elder Holland wrong, then musket fire was received by a marginalized community defending an institution for no good reason. If I am wrong, then muskets were not fired, with the inorganic institution perhaps being slightly tarnished.

    Please let me know if I’m missing something. I’m pretty emotionally charged on the issue so I’m probably not thinking as well as I should be at the moment.

  28. Oh and I should point out, pconnornc, I’m not simply “defaulting to the immovable position that I am right.” My beliefs about LGBTQ issues in relation to my religious beliefs weren’t the result of adopting a quick fad. It’s not something I grabbed onto casually. There’s a caricature that’s been painted of people like me who are blinded by the adversary, adopting the world’s false doctrines in order to fit in, to gain fame or popularity, or whatever. And that caricature is laughable and offensive. It shows me the person who is painting me that way has n clue what they are talking about. Speaking for myself, these beliefs were hard-won and have taken years to grapple with. Figuring out how to maintain a connection to my religious community and my deeply held spiritual experiences and theological perspectives while coming to differ on something that could have cost me my career, could yet cost me my church membership, has been a lot of work.

  29. RivertonPaul says:

    Thanks for the thoughful post.

    I find it somewhat awkward that I am resorting to a Bruce R. McConkie quote. Nonetheless, as he points out, whether it be meridian Israel or disco-era Mormonism, positions can and do change:

    “We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

    “We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness, and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more.

    “It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the . . . matter before . . . . It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them. We now do what meridian Israel did when the Lord said the gospel should go to the gentiles. We forget all the statements that limited the gospel to the house of Israel, and we start going to the gentiles.”

    All Are Alike unto God, BRUCE R. MCCONKIE, 18 August 1978
    https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/bruce-r-mcconkie/alike-unto-god/

  30. bhodges – I don’t know you personally, but have followed your thoughts for years. I assumed your positions were deeply reasoned and respect you. I sense the caricatures you lament fall equally the other way. Those who “blindly follow”, are wrapped up in their phobias, or are immovably locked into defending a patriarchy are common accusations. It just cuts both ways – and there are those all over the spectrum who have deeply reasoned, spiritually confirmed, long developed positions.

    Having said that, it is possible you are wrong, Elder Holland is wrong, or even me (though I haven’t stated a position clearly to be called out as wrong thus far.) Hence my personal challenge to always allow uncertainty no matter how deeply reasoned my thoughts are.

    Chadwick – I may be wrong, but my perception is the furor over Elder Holland’s words is 10% his analogy, and 90% that he said anything at all. If he had said everything but not used “muskets”, how much would that have reduced your frustration? I’m not asking that in an antagonizing way – sincere curiosity.

    I do stand by the position that I’m always going to assume that if a prophet (lower case) is “correct”, there will always be well reasoned people explaining why they are wrong. This may or may not apply in this case.

  31. Hi pconnornc:

    I know we aren’t acquainted other than for this blog, but please believe me when I tell you that Elder Holland means a lot to me. I can still vividly remember sitting in the Provo MTC in October 1999 listening to his talk “A High Priest of Good things to come” and feeling an immediate kinship with him. This was shortly followed two weeks later by Elder Holland being on my flight to my mission in Hong Kong, followed by years and years of me hanging on his every word. There have been years I have only listened to GC to hear Elder Holland, with the bonus of hearing Elder Uchtdorf. Our young kids even quote his comment about learning not to down a quart of pickle juice every time something good happens to someone else.

    So for me, this is literally 100% his musket analogy, 100% him calling out Matt Easton in direct contradiction to the Savior’s admonition in Matthew 18:15 to reconcile differences privately, 100% mourning a loss of that kinship that has existed for 21 years.

    Based on the circles I visit physically and virtually, including an amazing Facebook group “I’ll walk with you – a support group for LDS parents of LGBTQ+ Children”, I would argue the furor is probably 80% his analogy and 20% that he said anything at all. But I do recognize your experience may be different.

    All that being said, I will repeat what I wrote earlier: If Elder Holland is wrong, then muskets were fired in vain. If I’m wrong, perhaps there was a little more empathy in the world.

  32. I’m also reminded of the NT story of the woman taken in adultery. Did Jesus use that moment to preach to her about the evils of adultery? No. He knew exactly what to say to encourage her.

  33. Having said that, it is possible you are wrong, Elder Holland is wrong, or even me (though I haven’t stated a position clearly to be called out as wrong thus far.) Hence my personal challenge to always allow uncertainty no matter how deeply reasoned my thoughts are.

    Hey, I could be wring about all kinds of things.

    Chadwick – I may be wrong, but my perception is the furor over Elder Holland’s words is 10% his analogy, and 90% that he said anything at all. If he had said everything but not used “muskets”, how much would that have reduced your frustration? I’m not asking that in an antagonizing way – sincere curiosity.

    The way he targeted a gay BYU student whose address was approved by administration and delivered two years ago contributed a lot. The musket thing is old, and I’ve found it problematic for years.

    I do stand by the position that I’m always going to assume that if a prophet (lower case) is “correct”, there will always be well reasoned people explaining why they are wrong. This may or may not apply in this case.

    What good does this do? If a prophet is wrong some well-reasoned people will explain why they’re wrong. Some ill-reasoned people will too. And others will insist they aren’t wrong. Opposition in and of itself isn’t proof of truth.

  34. I love that story, Trevor. It’s a reminder of how compassionate Jesus truly is–even in the face of serious sin. And that’s a great comfort to me. But even so, we must not forget that after he comforts the woman he then tells her to “go and sin no more.”

    The same Jesus who nurtured and healed the downtrodden and sick is the same Jesus who rebuked the Pharisees and cleansed the temple. He even rebuked his own disciples at times for their lack of belief–though with less indignation, I imagine.

    Though the Savior was, no doubt, the most loving personage ever to walk the earth he never shied away from teaching as much truth as his disciples were able to bear–and he taught some hard doctrines. He told them that not only should they not kill–they shouldn’t get angry. Not only should they not commit adultery–they shouldn’t even lust!

    I think one of the most difficult of his teachings for us moderns is the idea that following him may cause separation rather than reconciliation–especially when reconciliation seems to be the heart of the gospel. He says at one point: those who are not against me are for me. And at another point: those who are not for me are against me.

    That said, I think the takeaway message (for me) from Jesus’ seeming dual nature is that the truth is both conveyed and protected across an entire spectrum of righteous action; anything from taking a child into one’s arms and blessing her to sending down fire from heaven upon the heads false priests–and everything in between.

  35. Dirtbag, yeah, except we’re not Jesus.

  36. Brian,

    Well, of course, you’re right. And yet anyone of us here could think of many situations wherein we’d react like lions instead of lambs in order to do the right thing.

    And just to be clear–I certainly believe that our “default setting” should be one of lovingkindness–that’s the rule. Nevertheless, there are some things that we should be willing to protect with our very lives–and the Lord makes it very clear that he expects that kind of willingness on the part of his disciples.

    Even so, I don’t think we have to entertain those kinds of extremes in order to make sense the situation that’s being addressed here. I think some folks have (unintentionally–for the most part) misread Elder Holland’s remarks–and they would do well to revisit them now that they’ve had a little time reflect upon them.

  37. Dirtbag: “Even so, I don’t think we have to entertain those kinds of extremes in order to make sense the situation that’s being addressed here. I think some folks have (unintentionally–for the most part) misread Elder Holland’s remarks–and they would do well to revisit them now that they’ve had a little time reflect upon them.”

    And by some folks, you mean all of us but not you, right?

    I know how to read. My hearing is just fine. I’ve gone back to this speech multiple times. My life experience led to my interpretation. I assume the same for you. Please do not gaslight. We are all entitled to our interpretation. That mere fact that there is no consensus on this speech alone shows that perhaps some of the word choices were not the best.

  38. Dirtbag: Maybe being gay isn’t a sin. Maybe a committed relationship between gay people is as chaste and wonderful as any heterosexual relationship could be. Maybe we’ve inherited cultural prejudice against LGBTQ folks and need to consider the possibility that we’ve been wrong about these issues. As you said, Jesus has called his own apostles to repent in times past. He’s also allowed culturally influenced baggage deter the extension of the church’s blessings to huge numbers of people in the past.

    But notice how you’ve made this thread about LGBTQ issues when the post was about something broader: the musket metaphor. Let’s get back on topic if you want to discuss further.

  39. Brian, while there’s certainly much about me that is gas–I’m not trying to gaslight anyone. Sorry if I came across that way.

    While I understand that few people rarely see eye to eye on any subject–it seems that, because of the sensitivity of this particular subject, we need to be *doubly* careful that we–and I include myself–don’t allow our assumptions to cloud our reading of Elder Holland’s talk.

    BHodges, I thought I was talking about “musket fire.” Maybe I wasn’t clear–but I was trying to suggest that the Lord’s approach to managing the affairs of his Kingdom is not always one of pure affirmation. Even so, as I stated above, I believe that as disciples of Jesus our “default setting” should be lovingkindness at all times.

    And I’m sure that Elder Holland believes that, too. I’ve no doubt that he would never suggest that we take the first shot, so to speak. And I’m certain that if we were forced to retaliate he’d prefer that we fire a shot across the bow before taking direct aim.

    You say: “Maybe being gay isn’t a sin.”

    I don’t categorize sexual orientation as sin. Sexual sin enters the picture (IMO) when our behavior is not in keeping with the Law of Chastity.

  40. Dirtbag: “And I’m sure that Elder Holland believes that, too. I’ve no doubt that he would never suggest that we take the first shot, so to speak. And I’m certain that if we were forced to retaliate he’d prefer that we fire a shot across the bow before taking direct aim.”

    Does anyone ever think they are guilty of taking the first shot though? The Jan 6 insurrection wasn’t offensive after all; they were defending their life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Who started the shooting in Afghanistan twenty years ago? Can anyone even remember anymore? Capulets vs Montagues. Grangerfords vs Shepherdsons. Jets vs Sharks. Does it even matter anymore?

    This is why the metaphor is inappropriate. Musket fire isn’t appropriate. Full stop.

  41. Dirtbag: We can speculate all day about what Elder Holland believes or not, but here we are dealing with his actual words. They were intemperate. They had an aggressive edge. They invoked violence. They were the opposite of turning the other cheek.

    The Church used to teach a Law of Chastity wherein interracial sex was a sin, too. That changed.

  42. Chadwick, I agree that some misunderstandings are intractable–without any hope of resolution.

    But wouldn’t that make following the relevant counsel of a living prophet even more critical?

    Re: Musket Fire: We need to remember that analogies have limitations. And in the case of Elder Holland’s talk–he employed that analogy when speaking of the “friendly fire” that was taken by some concerned members of the church at the hand BYU’s leadership.

    The other (similar) metaphor–that of carrying a trowel in one hand and a musket in the other–was strictly defensive in nature. And, again, it was meant as a reminder to the *leadership* of their responsibilities as employees of BYU. BYU’s faculty and staff were the target audience of Elder Holland’s message–not the students.

  43. I need to make a correction: Elder Holland also employed the analogy of “musket fire” when quoting Elder Oaks–speaking of his (Oaks’) desire to see more solidarity in the leadership’s defense of the church’s foundational teachings on marriage and family.

  44. BHodges,

    First off, I must say–as a matter of opinion–that Elder Holland’s words were measured given the topic of defending the foundational teachings of the church.

    As I mentioned above: what about the words of Abinadi or Captain Moroni or Samuel the Lamanite? Obviously, their respective situations were more intense than the problems that Elder Holland was addressing at BYU–though not necessarily more important, IMO. But even so, are their words less inspired than they might’ve been otherwise because they were aggressive?

    Re: The Law of Chastity: For reasons that I don’t want to go into on this thread your example is a bit off target–IMO. Nevertheless, for the sake of argument, one might refer to the Levites’ charge to care of the mobile tabernacle. That has since changed–but even so, if one outside the Levite clan were to “steady the ark” they were struck dead even though it was only a temporary arrangement.

    Let’s keep our eye on the living prophets rather than future prophets.

  45. I don’t think they were measured. I think he misrepresented Matty Easton’s valedictorian address to the point of needing to apologize and publicly correct the record. And I think musket discourse has no place in the church at this point. We don’t need it.

    I don’t think God struck any Levites dead at any point. I also think we’re at a point where violence in God’s name isn’t going to cut it. Defending violence, perpetrating it, it just doesn’t work for me. Metaphorically or otherwise. How about more focus on the Sermon on the Mount. Let’s include 1 Corinthians 13. There are all kinds of things in scripture which we Latter-day Saints don’t emphasize as part of our own canon within the canon.

    I don’t think my example of inter-racial marriage is off-target, but I would say it’s not a 1 to 1 correspondence. You likely believe gay sex can’t work eternally because you believe gods and goddesses in the afterlife engage in procreative sex to produce spirit babies, thereby populating worlds. I don’t believe that theology.

    I’ll keep my eyes on Jesus Christ. To the extent that prophets point me in that direction, that’s wonderful.

  46. He was not addressing Matt Easton’s speech per se. He was criticizing the process that made it possible.

    It was a non-Levite who perished–but no matter. The point is that even when we receive counsel that isn’t calculated to last for ever it is still binding upon us in the present.

    I don’t believe that theology either.

    I agree–let’s keep our eyes on the Savior. And! Let’s keep our ears open to his counsel–whether we receive it by his own voice or the voice of his servants.

  47. Start a fire way over there to divert attention from trouble nearby. Hard not to smell a diversionary tactic in Elder Holland’s remarks. Leadership is feeling heat from the Right on masks and vaccines, which represents core constituency. Deflect attention to the other end of the spectrum.

  48. Comet, I believe inspired counsel will take its own course regardless of where it seems to fall on the sociopolitical spectrum. On the one hand, the church encourages vaccinations, calls for moderately liberal immigration policies, collaborates with activist organizations like the NAACP, pleads the cause of refugees, etc. And on the other hand, it teaches socially conservative values vis-a-vis marriage and family, vigorously promotes the freedom of conscience and religion, believes the Constitution to be an inspired document, and so forth.

    One way or another, the Lord’s prophets will end up offending just about everyone.

  49. John Mansfield says:

    Reading the above exchanges, and considering the rebukes delivered by Jeff Holland and Henry Eyring, it appears that the preference by Hodges for Eyring’s words over Holland’s coincides with his agreement with Eyring rebuking that which he did (apologists being aggressive jerks) and disagreement with Holland rebuking that which he did (faculty waving rainbow flags, figuratively or literally).

    If a church leader used Eyring’s gentle, aspirational mode to clearly teach that recent rainbow flag waving splashes at BYU should not continue, how would that be received? Blandly, I suspect. Half or a third as many little essays written in response by those who don’t like Holland’s talk and would have no more favor for a kinder, gentler version addressing the same concerns, and no musket waving by deplorables.

  50. I think many here still see our LGBTQ+ children, brothers, and sisters as outsiders, as if you can fire your musket and they’ll go away. But we are born into your families every day. We’re part of you.

  51. John M.,
    You are likely correct that many here (and throughout the church) would likely still object. That is no excuse for his using the musket language and, frankly, it doesn’t do anything to invalidate objections to the musket language. But you’re here to troll, not engage, so I suspect no better from you.

  52. John Mansfield says:

    Mr. C., trolling would be writing something outrageous to provoke a response. Engaging would be considering to what others have written and in turn writing something reasonable in response. Looking again at what I wrote, I see nothing outrageous or unreasonable in it. Unwelcome by you, though.

  53. He was not addressing Matt Easton’s speech per se. He was criticizing the process that made it possible.

    You want to split hairs about it. He depicted Matty as “commandeering the podium.” Laughable hyperbole at the very best.

    It was a non-Levite who perished–but no matter. The point is that even when we receive counsel that isn’t calculated to last for ever it is still binding upon us in the present.

    The idea that we are “bound” by any council that comes along is insidious. I can sustain church leaders without agreeing with them or doing or believing anything they want me to do or believe.

    I don’t believe that theology either.

    You join me in disagreeing with current mainstream orthodoxy.

    I agree–let’s keep our eyes on the Savior. And! Let’s keep our ears open to his counsel–whether we receive it by his own voice or the voice of his servants.

    Exactly so. And not everything his servants say amounts to his counsel. The common interpretation of D&C 1 is that whatever church leaders say in their official capacity represents the will of Christ. I disagree with that interpretation. The scripture, read literally, says God’s word is God’s word, whether spoken directly by God or communicated through God’s servants. It does not say whatever God’s servants communicate equals God’s word.

    Josh: thank you for commenting. I’m here for you.

    John Mansfield: I would still disagree with Elder Holland about forbidding (kind of?) rainbows and flags and such, but this post wouldn’t have been written if it was in the register Eyring described. That’s right.

  54. BHodges, you’re a smart cookie. You seem to have the ability to parse the scriptures with a high degree of nuance. I would ask you to try to do the same with the opinions of others that don’t line up exactly with yours.

    I’ve noticed this phenomenon among some of the most sensitive thinkers; they lose all ability to empathize with what is being said if it in anyway seems to trammel the expression of their sociopolitical identity.

    Re: Splitting Hairs: I’ve no doubt that you believe that context matters. And, IMO, understanding the context of Elder Holland’s address makes a *huge* difference vis-a-vis how it ought to be received.

    “You join me in disagreeing with current mainstream orthodoxy.”

    If you were to see me in person you might think I look rather unorthodox–what with long hair down my back and a long beard down my front. But I am 100% orthodox with regard to the foundational claims of the church. With regard to the more speculative stuff–not so much.

    “The idea that we are “bound” by any council that comes along is insidious.”

    True. Even so, you’re stretching what I said beyond the limits of its meaning. I’m not suggesting that we–as individuals–don’t participate in the revelatory process of receiving counsel. Of course we do. But at the same time it seems to me that those who covenant to live by every word of God ought to at least give the Living Oracles the benefit of the doubt with respect to their counsel being the word of God.

    I have to say that I’ve been deeply troubled by reactions from both left-leaning and right-leaning members of the church over the last little while. They both have had very similar reactions vis-a-vis counsel that is difficult for them to receive.

  55. Here’s a thoughtful piece on Elder Holland:

    https://latterdaysaintmag.com/woe-unto-those-who-call-a-good-man-evil/

  56. “I don’t think my example of inter-racial marriage is off-target, but I would say it’s not a 1 to 1 correspondence. You likely believe gay sex can’t work eternally because you believe gods and goddesses in the afterlife engage in procreative sex to produce spirit babies, thereby populating worlds. I don’t believe that theology.”

    This feels like uncharitable characterization of those you’re engaging in rhetoric with, not unlike what you’re complaining about.

  57. Just to piggy-back on Josh’s comment that “we [LGBTQ+] are born into your families every day.” This is the very fact of the matter. Unlike our black brothers and sisters, for example, LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters are embedded in our families from top to bottom in the church thereby making them more difficult to “Other.” Is this uncanny fact a call to double down on conventional norms of membership identity or a call to innovate new frameworks of inclusion?

  58. Comet, I think the key to working together in spite of our differences is to focus on our common divine heritage. We are all children of a loving God. And as we strive to follow the Savior we are brothers and sisters in Christ.

  59. Dirtbag: Re: Splitting Hairs: I’ve no doubt that you believe that context matters. And, IMO, understanding the context of Elder Holland’s address makes a *huge* difference vis-a-vis how it ought to be received.

    When someone in a position of power and privilege is using and encouraging the use of metaphorical muskets I’m not particularly eager to get out a scalpel.

    If you were to see me in person you might think I look rather unorthodox–what with long hair down my back and a long beard down my front. But I am 100% orthodox with regard to the foundational claims of the church. With regard to the more speculative stuff–not so much.

    If the eternality of heterosexism as the basis for ongoing godhood isn’t currently a foundational claim of Mormonism then why does it matter if I disagree with it? Why are apostles spending so much time on it?

    “The idea that we are “bound” by any council that comes along is insidious.”

    True. Even so, you’re stretching what I said beyond the limits of its meaning. I’m not suggesting that we–as individuals–don’t participate in the revelatory process of receiving counsel. Of course we do. But at the same time it seems to me that those who covenant to live by every word of God ought to at least give the Living Oracles the benefit of the doubt with respect to their counsel being the word of God.

    What does it mean to give someone the benefit of the doubt? Always agree with what they say? Or if you don’t agree, just keep it quiet?

    I have to say that I’ve been deeply troubled by reactions from both left-leaning and right-leaning members of the church over the last little while. They both have had very similar reactions vis-a-vis counsel that is difficult for them to receive.

    Right, this is the phenomenon of “Beyondism,” the assumption that a person safely occupies a middle ground or a superior place above the fray. It is interesting though that the ones who usually insist on accepting everything prophets say are freaking out over vaccines and masks. Left-leaning members have already been operating with a view of prophets that engages with the problem of what to do when one strongly disagrees with authority.

    jpv: This feels like uncharitable characterization of those you’re engaging in rhetoric with, not unlike what you’re complaining about.

    How many Latter-day Saints do you think currently believe they will engage in sexual procreation after mortality?

    Comet: Thanks.

  60. “When someone in a position of power and privilege is using and encouraging the use of metaphorical muskets I’m not particularly eager to get out a scalpel.”

    Frankly, BHodges, I don’t believe that. In fact, I don’t think there would’ve been any outcry on the use of that particular metaphor had it been employed in favor of protecting our LGBTQ brothers and sisters–which I am more than willing to do, by the way.

    “If the eternality of heterosexism as the basis for ongoing godhood isn’t currently a foundational claim of Mormonism then why does it matter if I disagree with it? Why are apostles spending so much time on it?”

    Come now, brother, that’s not what you said earlier. You employed a bunch of goofy 19th century theological imagery to make your point. Even so, now that you’ve honed it down to “the eternality of heterosexism” I can respond in the affirmative: Yes, I believe that sexuality as it is set forth in the Proclamation on the Family is a foundational teaching of the church.

    “What does it mean to give someone the benefit of the doubt? Always agree with what they say? Or if you don’t agree, just keep it quiet?”

    Well if that “someone” is just some schmoe like me–then no, of course not. On the other hand, if we’ve made sacred covenants to follow the Lord and that someone is the Lord’s anointed–then yes! We should give them the benefit of the doubt. That should be our default posture towards receiving counsel that flows through those channels–IMO.

    Having said that, I’m not suggesting that we will never receive personal revelation that is counterintuitive to that which comes to us through living prophets. I’d just hope that in those rare instances when it does happen we’d keep it to ourselves. Personal revelation should stay with the person who receives it.

    “Right, this is the phenomenon of “Beyondism,” the assumption that a person safely occupies a middle ground or a superior place above the fray. It is interesting though that the ones who usually insist on accepting everything prophets say are freaking out over vaccines and masks. Left-leaning members have already been operating with a view of prophets that engages with the problem of what to do when one strongly disagrees with authority.”

    LOL–Labelling my reaction doesn’t mean that my concerns are not genuine.

    I agree with what you say about the right-leaning members. As a conservative I’ve been deeply troubled by the reaction of many who are typically aligned with the general leadership of the church.

    I agree with what you say about left-leaning members as well. A lot of good folks who tend to take a virtue to the extreme–IMO.

  61. “When someone in a position of power and privilege is using and encouraging the use of metaphorical muskets I’m not particularly eager to get out a scalpel.”

    Frankly, BHodges, I don’t believe that. In fact, I don’t think there would’ve been any outcry on the use of that particular metaphor had it been employed in favor of protecting our LGBTQ brothers and sisters–which I am more than willing to do, by the way.

    I was deeply concerned the last time Elder Holland brought out the musket metaphor. As a church employee I made my feelings known through the proper channels. Now that I sought other employment I can speak to it here. Also, it was precisely the combination of violent rhetoric while discussing LGBTQ issues that turned the heat up in this situation.

    “If the eternality of heterosexism as the basis for ongoing godhood isn’t currently a foundational claim of Mormonism then why does it matter if I disagree with it? Why are apostles spending so much time on it?”

    Come now, brother, that’s not what you said earlier. You employed a bunch of goofy 19th century theological imagery to make your point. Even so, now that you’ve honed it down to “the eternality of heterosexism” I can respond in the affirmative: Yes, I believe that sexuality as it is set forth in the Proclamation on the Family is a foundational teaching of the church.

    My description wasn’t goofy 19th century imagery. I used contemporary terms to describe what many church members believe: that sealed men and women will reproduce in the eternities.

    “On the other hand, if we’ve made sacred covenants to follow the Lord and that someone is the Lord’s anointed–then yes! We should give them the benefit of the doubt. That should be our default posture towards receiving counsel that flows through those channels–IMO.

    I promised to follow the Lord’s anointed to the Lord. If they invite me down some other path sometimes I’m under no obligation at all to follow them there. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt shouldn’t mean agreeing with everything they say. To me it means being careful and considerate and analyzing their words carefully.

    Having said that, I’m not suggesting that we will never receive personal revelation that is counterintuitive to that which comes to us through living prophets. I’d just hope that in those rare instances when it does happen we’d keep it to ourselves. Personal revelation should stay with the person who receives it.

    You’re welcome to do that. I think that’s a dangerous way of promoting groupthink.

    “Right, this is the phenomenon of “Beyondism,” the assumption that a person safely occupies a middle ground or a superior place above the fray. It is interesting though that the ones who usually insist on accepting everything prophets say are freaking out over vaccines and masks. Left-leaning members have already been operating with a view of prophets that engages with the problem of what to do when one strongly disagrees with authority.”

    LOL–Labelling my reaction doesn’t mean that my concerns are not genuine.

    I didn’t speak to whether you were being genuine or not. I believe you’re being genuine, and if I didn’t I would probably just focus on responding to your thoughts so that other people can see the exchange and maybe get something out of it.

    I agree with what you say about the right-leaning members. As a conservative I’ve been deeply troubled by the reaction of many who are typically aligned with the general leadership of the church.

    Imagine being more liberal and being deeply troubled more often. See how sustainable the church community is as a place for you.

  62. I think we’re both coming at this with a lot of momentum–and it’s causing us to talk past one another, IMO. You say:

    “Imagine being more liberal and being deeply troubled more often. See how sustainable the church community is as a place for you.”

    I’m troubled by the fact that folks all across the sociopolitical spectrum are *rejecting* counsel from the Lord’s anointing. You seem to be suggesting that certain folks on the left tend to be more troubled (than others) by the counsel *itself*. That’s two different things.

    I think I’ve said just about all I can on the subject. I’ll end by sharing this link:

    https://latterdaysaintmag.com/elder-holland-what-he-said-is-not-what-they-heard/

  63. Dirtbag, quoting ldsmag isn’t very convincing to most of us in this crowd. Nor is the argument made in your link that somehow people with concerns are ‘misreading’ what Holland said. That link is so full of problematic logic, misdirection, and holes, it would take more space than all these comments just to address them.

  64. “Again, I’m not perfect. I have my own snarky thorn in the flesh to contend with. I fight. I sometimes let my anger at what I see as unjust situations boil over into rage at perceived perpetrators. But in my better moments I see how ineffective and soul-poisoning that approach truly is.”

    This is laudable, and it’s something that I needed to hear today. Thanks, BHodges.

  65. Brian, there’s certainly room for disagreement on the subject. But there are a lot of smart people who agree with Dan Peterson’s article–as do I (though I’m not one of the smart ones). So my guess is that at least some of the disagreement may have as much to do with the assumptions that we bring to the argument as with anything else.

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