Sunday in Outer Blogness: The gods must be crazy edition!!

This has been quite a difficult week. I generally try to get the week’s news down to a manageable list of links, but there has been so much going on that this could take a while…

By now you’ve surely heard that the First Presidency of the CoJCoL-dS has issued a “clarification” to the disastrous new policy. I put “clarification” in scare quotes because it was obviously a change in policy, and it’s not really any clearer than before.

It would have been nearly impossible for them to stick to their guns on this policy — with all of the stories coming in about adorable, innocent kids in joint-custody families getting denied ordinances. Not to mention the increase in suicides (see here for help). Yet, while the “clarified” policy neutralized the largest block of faithful, church-attending, photogenic victims, it still treats committed gay couples as worse than murderers and punishes some kids for their parents’ “apostasy”, which doesn’t sit well:

And I can’t help but think that there is something to the notion this only became a problem when it affected straight people.

One of my frustrations from the beginning with this has been the sense that they’re not saying straight out what their intentions are, that they’re waving their hands in the direction of protecting children while aiming at something else. And that something else, I strongly suspect, is doing what is seen as necessary so that gay families won’t feel welcome at church. I feel like that’s a cynical thing to say, and that bothers me. But I’m not persuaded of any other read on the situation.

That protecting the children excuse has some flaws:

At least the CoJCoL-dS has offered this Holy Ghost simulator app and Camp Shunshine for the kids of gay parents who are still excluded from ordinances. Too bad these clever tricks won’t work anymore.

And since the CoJCoL-dS is incapable of admitting to errors, they had to make the Newsroom announcement as passive aggressive and blame-projecting as possible. Because… that’s such a great way to garner sympathy…? Most popular gems included the following:

The episode demonstrates clearly the dangers of drawing conclusions based on incomplete news reports, tweets and Facebook posts without necessary context and accurate information.

[…]

One difficulty was a general lack of understanding of the Handbook itself

[…]

Because it is a policy and procedural manual, the Handbook is not written in language that is necessarily contextual or explanatory.

The nerve of some people misunderstanding your secret handbook that you never told them about! Or thinking that you ought to openly announce it to the members when you change policies that might affect their salvation (or at least their standing in the church) instead of silently slipping them into the restricted handbook. Now they’ve released a new essay explaining the secret handbook, so, naturally, none of this is the church’s fault.

But can the CoJCoL-dS recover? Or has it finally dealt its own credibility and moral authority a fatal blow? (Out of sheer lack of foresight?) It looks like the big tent is over and a whole lot of people have finally had it with the church. About 1500 resigned in a single event. The Deseret News wishes them good riddance.

Now I’d like to direct you to some personal stories of those affected by the policy:

“You can’t stay with us. You are welcome to visit but you know how I feel. Your relationship is not of God.” Each word hit me like a rock.

I responded in a rather flat voice, “I didn’t ask to stay at your house. We had already planned to stay in a hotel. I’m not sure why you felt the need to say what you just did Mom. Was that a passive aggressive way of continuing to show that I need to repent?”

From Uomo Nuovo:

NOT WORTHY ENOUGH. Even though I have been active ever since joining the Church. Even though my wife and I have made huge financial sacrifices in adopting these children. Even though we have been paying tithing consistently for over 20 years. Even though, in every respect except the payment of a full tithe, I consider myself worthy enough to perform these ordinances, and I would have been considered such – prior to the adoption of this new policy.

From Dad’s Primal Scream:

This doesn’t look like it will affect you now, but someday you may be required to say you disavow me and move out. I think that’s a horrible position to put a child in and I want you to know that I love you unconditionally regardless of what you ever decide to do. There’s nothing you can do or say that would change this love I have for you.

I love your brother serving a mission now and each one of you girls. I’ll love and accept you no matter what you are pressured to say or do in the future, and I will never let this sort of thing stand in the way of my love for you.

I’m just sad that you are put in this situation.

Lots of faithful members rushed to comfort (respectively afflict) those affected.

Others have shared feelings, poems, and words of comfort.

Outside the Mormon bubble, looks like the world has some bigger problems. Let’s hope we can move together towards peace and away from polarization, despite these horrible tragedies.

And life goes on. Gay people aren’t the only ones getting excommunicated. We have a new hymn parody. In scripture study, let’s explore some bad logic in the BoM and learn what the New Testament says about slavery!

Stay safe, take care of yourself and others, and I wish you as peaceful a week as possible…

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chanson

C. L. Hanson is the friendly American ExMormon atheist mom living in Switzerland! See "letters from a broad" and the novel ExMormon for further adventures!!

12 thoughts on “Sunday in Outer Blogness: The gods must be crazy edition!!

  1. Did you see the utterly revolting defense of the policy being shared everywhere (over 24,000 times) on Facebook? The logic comes down to this: “We’re nowhere near as bad as ISIS, so we’re clearly not bad at all.”

    If that’s the best defense you can muster, you’re still really awful.

  2. the link should be there now. I have to edit my comment in order to embed a link, so there’s a bit of a lag.

    also, it’s nothing official–just some dude’s random thoughts in a post he made public.

    but it has been shared over 24,000 times, the guy claims, and I’ve certainly seen it a few places. It’s completely gross–and while some shares are critical of it, like this one, plenty are very enthusiastic, and somehow imagine it actually exonerates the church in some way.

  3. Speaking of crazy gods, or at least crazy theology…. This seemed like pretty sound analysis to me, in that it at least makes this hated and hateful new policy purposeful and part of a larger plan:

    While it opposes homosexual marriage more than instrumentally, the Church is taking the opportunity to prepare members for the seeming inevitability of legally recognized polygamy (which follows from the most popular arguments for gay marriage no matter what Jonathan Rauch musters to the contrary). By the time polygamy becomes accepted by the state and the population, LDS members will have had extensive experience and a greatly enlarged corpus of authoritative statements defending heterosexual monogamy as true marriage. Those who are most likely to believe in eternal polygamy–the more orthodox and, indeed, conservative who have often viewed monogamy as temporary compliance with the laws of the land–will have had years of experience exhorting proponents of same-sex marriage to follow the Brethren in matters of marital definition. The Brethren hope to fend off another polygamous schism and, perhaps, to put to final rest the largest, longest-lived thorn in the Church’s side.

  4. I don’t think it’s sound and I believe it’s not valid.
    I was told the Cyborgs had a plan, but I think the producers and scriptwriters made it up as they went along.

    1.They are not carbon copies(whether it’s fresh sheet or a well used one). I view it as, I don’t know the word but if it’s biology, convergent evolution. I can see some homoplasies due to the selective pressure of the church, but the genetics are different.

    2. Spiltoffs from the Mormon Church are an affront to their authority, not their theology.
    D&C 132 is still canonized. They are not denigrating polygamy, but rather other Mormonisms.
    Trying to be accepted by those Christians that don’t accept them has led the Church to stress commonalty with them and hide from them distinctions.
    As Hinckley said about another doctrine, “I don’t know that we teach it.”

    3. “…seeming inevitability of legally recognized polygamy (which follows from the most popular arguments for gay marriage..” No, they don’t, period. Whether arguments can be made or should be made is another matter.
    US marriage law was based on a couple. Changing that from opposite sex to any sex required no fundamental restructuring of property or inheritance law.

    What the brethren hope for, I do not know. (Here’s where I use a new word I learned–Heterosupremacy.)
    So any conclusion could be valid.

  5. @5 That is a really clever and fascinating line of reasoning! And yet I almost thing it’s too clever for the strategy level we’ve come to expect from the CoJCoL-dS. A little like my own conjecture that they don’t want their key members getting influenced by sympathy for those the CoJCoL-dS has hurt. I’m starting to lean towards Midgley’s application of Hanlon’s Razor:

    Well, I think the Brethren — fine legal minds notwithstanding — simply intended to retrofit the polygamy policy to another group that they wanted to take a hard line with. They didn’t mean for it to become well-known or publicised, and were surprised when it all blew up on them.

  6. I’m not questioning their stupidity.
    But from the sneaky underhanded campaign against ERA to all the anti-gay amendments and legal briefs, there’s a long history of being malicious.
    People have for years been talking about the impact on gay youth and suicides. So the best that can be said, is in wanting to take a hard line(why), these kids didn’t even cross their consciousness.
    That’s way beyond stupid.

  7. But from the sneaky underhanded campaign against ERA to all the anti-gay amendments and legal briefs, there’s a long history of being malicious.

    Speaking on a personal level where I’m not weighing arguments and trying to find a grand unifying theory for their longterm political strategy, and Hanlon’s razor notwithstanding, I absolutely agree with this. Their actions seem quite clearly and thoroughly malicious to me. Their actions are intended to inflict grievous harm on people they consider their enemies.

    That they then deflect responsibility for that harm by citing scriptures where God is at his most malicious and by claiming it’s all out of a generous desire to help people meet God’s standards for servile, unquestioning obedience doesn’t really help matters. Saying “We are right to hurt you because God finds your stiff-necked disobedience repugnant; now go repent” to gay teens and desperate women in abusive marriages is an example of truly craven victim-blaming of the weak by the strong.

    This is part of what I objected to in Brian Whitney’s silly argument about, uh, mistakes in our history. Perhaps because he was applying Hanlon’s razor or perhaps because he is incapable of imagining his leaders aren’t worth following in some fundamental way, he took it as a given that the brethren weren’t malicious. And from there, he and people who agreed with him seemed to think that simply asserting a lack of malice was enough to exonerate the brethren more fully.

    But a lack of malice doesn’t make something virtuous. It just means it’s not malicious. I do think the brethren are malicious, but even if I’m wrong and it can somehow be established that they absolutely are not, that doesn’t absolve them of the sins of hubris and arrogance and ignorance and callousness and narrow-mindedness and stupidity and greed and craven cowardice and a profound lack of compassion–all topped off with a pathological inability to admit they’ve ever made a mistake.

    Chanson, you’ve really underscored that point in several of your recent comments: they just can’t admit they’re wrong. They can admit that their predecessors have been wrong–but they can never admit their own errors. Rather than admit to being wrong themselves, they will throw anyone else under any passing bus. There is no turmoil or pain they are unwilling to cause members, there is collateral damage they won’t find acceptable–as long as it doesn’t involve saying, “We screwed up.”

    And honestly, that might be even worse than malice. It involves several sins, each of which compound the others: cowardice, dishonesty, hubris, and hypocrisy.

    It’s gross.

  8. @9 You’re probably right that the behavior of the CoJCoL-dS can’t be entirely explained by Hanlon’s razor.

    Honestly, I think it’s very hard to tell when they’re acting on various sneaky strategies vs. when their actions are due to random incompetence or when their actions are secondary results of things like hubris, arrogance, greed, etc.

    In order to evaluate how clever a given strategy is, you kind of have to know what the person who came up with the strategy was trying to accomplish. It’s probably true that there are people or factions within the CoJCoL-dS who have implemented clever strategies (it’s true that sinking the ERA was pretty impressive…), but it’s not clear that their various goals are coordinated in a competent or logical way.

    (eg. Did sinking the ERA bring the CoJCoL-dS some long-term benefit? If so, what benefit? And their political battle against marriage equality could have so many possible motivations that one can speculate endlessly on why the hell that was such a priority for them. It’s likely that it was a combination of various people’s goals and priorities.)

    But a lack of malice doesn’t make something virtuous. It just means it’s not malicious. I do think the brethren are malicious, but even if I’m wrong and it can somehow be established that they absolutely are not, that doesn’t absolve them of the sins of hubris and arrogance and ignorance and callousness and narrow-mindedness and stupidity and greed and craven cowardice and a profound lack of compassion–all topped off with a pathological inability to admit they’ve ever made a mistake.

    Absolutely. Even if they acted without malice, that certainly would not absolve them.

    Actually, it really bugs me when people argue, in essence, “So-and-so didn’t mean to be malicious (or sexist or racist or whatever), so stop picking on so-and-so!”.

    I say that if they acted without malice, that’s all the more reason to criticize their behavoir — because if it’s true that they mean no harm, then they should want to know about the harmful effects of their behavior in order to knock it off with their (inadvertent?) harm.

    And honestly, that might be even worse than malice. It involves several sins, each of which compound the others: cowardice, dishonesty, hubris, and hypocrisy.

    When we’re talking about these sorts of despicable motivations, it starts getting difficult to rank them by order of badness. 😉

  9. @8 That is a good point.

    The leaders of the CoJCoL-dS have been amply informed about how their policies, actions, and teachings have lead to countless gay suicides. So which is it? Do they want to cause gay people so much pain that a huge subset are driven to the point of suicide? Or do they simply not care that they’re inflicting that kind of pain? Neither option absolves them.

  10. @10

    I say that if they acted without malice, that’s all the more reason to criticize their behavoir — because if it’s true that they mean no harm, then they should want to know about the harmful effects of their behavior in order to knock it off with their (inadvertent?) harm.

    I agree! It drives me crazy when someone does something pretty awful–carries on an affair, embezzles from funds they’re entrusted to protect–and then says to the victims of their betrayal, as if it’s any comfort, “I never meant to hurt you.”

    I can readily believe that the primary purpose for engaging in the behavior was not to inflict hurt on another party. But of course the guilty party had to know that their actions were likely to hurt someone else if they were ever discovered.

    So what they’re really saying is “I didn’t think I’d get caught” or “My own needs and desires were more important to me than your happiness.”

    And if that’s the case, just own up to it! Have the honesty and integrity to admit what was really going on. Don’t act like denying from the get-go how much pain your actions are likely to cause others somehow makes you anything but selfish and dishonest.

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