Put on your own oxygen mask first

A while ago, we had a medium-sized crisis involving one of our kids. One of the first thoughts that raced across my mind was “Just when I finally thought I had my act together — now this!!” Then I immediately caught myself. Would I rather it happen while I’m drowning in three other crises? Or when I feel like I’m in a position to let everything else slide for a bit while I focus on my child’s problem?

Meanwhile, my husband jumped up to the plate as well, and we both found solace and emotional replenishment in each other’s arms while dealing with the problem.

This incident came to mind when I read the following comment:

Excuses like the kids would want me to be happy that adults use to justify their divorce (news flash your kids dont give a damn if youre happy. Kind of like how you dont give a damn what they think about the divorce. Funny how that works).

Sure, most kids (being, by definition, immature) don’t consciously care much about other people’s happiness. But having the emotional and physical energy to deal with crises (as well as with day-to-day parenting) is not something you can fake or simply conjure up by force of will. It’s the parents’ responsibility to provide a safe and healthy environment for their kids, and it’s the adults’ responsibility to figure out what they need to do to create that environment. It is the couple that knows whether their marriage is a source of comfort and solace or whether it is a source of additional stress, hindering the parents’ efforts to focus on their kids’ needs.

When people say that no-fault divorce is destroying the family, I take issue with that personally — because if it weren’t for no-fault divorce, I probably wouldn’t have the happy family that I have today. I remember thinking that if the point of restricting divorce is for the sake of the kids, I shouldn’t have even had the six-month waiting period for my no-fault divorce. If a childless couple has already decided to call it quits, the last thing you want to do is insist on giving them another opportunity to bring a child into this picture. Of course, even for couples with kids, if they’ve decided to split amicably, it’s not necessarily in the kids’ interest to insist on turning it into a fight.

Now, I know that the defenders of traditional marriage will say that the point is that if they create more obstacles to divorce, maybe the couple will choose not to divorce. Because that’s what a stress family needs: more obstacles. (Aside: A historian studying Victorian-era illegitimacy told me that there was a high rate of cohabitation and illegitimacy due to one or both partners being unable to obtain a divorce from an earlier union.)

Studies on kids’ “outcomes” have shown that kids whose parents stayed married do better than kids whose parents are divorced. But if these studies are used to tell people that they need to stay together “for the kids” (and they are used for that, consistently), then the fact that some of families in the “married” category actually didn’t even want to split up is a major factor that should not be glossed over. The only relevant studies are the ones that specifically compare outcomes of families where the parents wanted a divorce (but decided to stay together for the kids) to the outcomes of families where the parents divorced and cooperated in child rearing. And, to be credible, such studies should be free of major funding conflicts of interest.

Sometimes I get the impression that people who want to “defend” (heterosexual-only) marriage don’t really think very highly of marriage, even straight marriage (see this recent critique of straight marriages where the spouses are in love with each other). Personally, I think marriage is a commitment rather than a prison, and — even though it represents some amount of work — on balance it is a comfort and joy rather than a punishment.

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!!

You may also like...

377 Responses

  1. Holly says:

    Right exactly. You wanted to talk about the theodicy.

    What I want to talk about is not theodicy, Seth.

    I seriously can’t believe how many times I get to do this in conversations with you, Seth: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=what+is+theodicy

    In case you’re too lazy to click on the link, as you were in another conversation, I’ll spell it out for you. Theodicy is “a vindication of the divine attributes, particularly holiness and justice, in establishing or allowing the existence of physical and moral evil.”

    I’m really not interested.

    YOU might think that my framing of the topic is a response to someone else’s theodicy, but that’s your error and your problem, borne of your ignorance. I’m not approaching god from the POV of metaphysics but of literary criticism. God is a character; I want to understand the character. I don’t think examining him will tell me something true or real about the universe.

    Because there is nowhere else that line of argument is going.

    there are plenty of other places that area of exploration can and does go. I manage to talk about it a lot without ever getting to the question of “If God is good and all-powerful, why does He allow evil?”

    Frankly, Seth, I really CAN’T end up there, since I don’t begin with the premise that God is good or all-powerful.

    Remarkable dynamic going on here: You keep insisting that it’s nasty atheists who want to “derail the conversation completely” by talking about theodicy, the question of why a perfect god would allow evil, blah blah blah. Nasty atheists, focusing on theodicy, derailing conversations that should really be about something else!

    I say that it’s not really a particularly compelling topic for me–in fact I find it silly–and have offered a couple of times to direct the conversation back to earlier topics. But you are stuck on the topic of the derailed conversations. If your garments are all in a twist because the conversation has been derailed, by all means, de-derail it. Since supposedly the third time is a charm, I’ll state again: Seth, I would love to have you respond to @127 and @131. If you want the subject changed away from theodicy, prove it by changing the subject.

    Setht @150I remember one of my friends who was taking some college statistics classes report his professor stating that statistics is the art of taking the numbers and making them say what you want them to say.

    Though we would hope that those numbers were at least numbers that could be documented and verified, instead of numbers fabricated from thin air, like your meaningless figures @145.

  2. Seth R. says:

    I know full well what theodicy is Holly.

    You’re just incapable of seeing the logical connections in your own arguments.

    You want to talk about what a jerk the Christian God is.

    Well, why is he a jerk?

    Because he either does evil stuff, or allows evil stuff to happen while supposedly being all powerful. And why would he do that?

    Bang!

    You’ve got a theodicy discussion.

    I think you’re being purposely obtuse here. The connection is is pretty obvious.

  3. Seth R. says:

    And whether you personally Holly, believe that God is all powerful or not is irrelevant. You’re attacking the Christian concept of God (or whatever it is you think is my concept of God) – which means you’re going to be talking about a theoretically all-powerful being.

    Which means you’ve got the theodicy.

  4. Holly says:

    Well, why is he a jerk?

    Because he either does evil stuff, or allows evil stuff to happen while supposedly being all powerful. And why would he do that?

    I DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT WHY HE WOULD DO THAT. it’s a dumb and unanswerable question, and a waste of my time to contemplate.

    And if I don’t worry about WHY, then I’m not in the realm of theodicy.

    Though trying to explain this to you gets involves reaching into the realm of theoidiocy.

    “theoidiocy: trying to talk about religion to a dense true believer who insists that every conversation about god be framed in the terms of his belief.”

    Youre attacking the Christian concept of God (or whatever it is you think is my concept of God)

    Oh! I’m attacking it! Oh! No wonder you seem so wounded.

    I figure I might as well repeat this from @151:

    If your garments are all in a twist because the conversation has been derailed, by all means, de-derail it. Since supposedly the third time is a charm, Ill state again: Seth, I would love to have you respond to @127 and @131. If you want the subject changed away from theodicy, prove it by changing the subject.

  5. Seth R. says:

    Yes, you don’t care. That’s why you used such flowery and inflammatory language about it. To show us how much you don’t care.

    Right.

    Liberal use of expletives and insult is always the mark of someone who is dispassionately disinterested in a subject.

  6. Seth R. says:

    I mean… take this little gem:

    “Why, of all the creatures we could have invented to worship, did so much of humanity decide to latch onto that nasty bastard? What does it say about humanity as a whole that were so stupid that we think someone who traffics so blatantly in violence and cruelty is the epitome of unconditional love? How are our notions of family, love, and forgiveness necessarily poisoned when our ideal of a loving father is that mean-spirited, egomaniacal crank?”

    Yes, this is obviously a subject Holly couldn’t care less about.

    It’s a good thing she reassured us earlier that she wasn’t angry in this conversation, or I might have almost been foolishly persuaded otherwise just now.

  7. Holly says:

    Seth: wondering why human beings worship an evil god is not the same as wondering why a particular god does evil things.

    I am very interested in the former and not at all interested in the latter.

    The distinction appears to be beyond your comprehension, which is unfortunate for both of us, but there it is.

  8. Seth R. says:

    Oh, I get the distinction.

    I just see it as trivial and basically irrelevant.

    Like much of the quibbling you’ve been throwing out as a distraction throughout this thread.

  9. Holly says:

    I just see it as trivial and basically irrelevant.

    If I cared about your assessment of much of anything, that might be a problem.

    but as it is, it matters not, and it’s just one more reason we can all be grateful that you do not actually have much influence over the world or its way of conversing.

  10. Seth R. says:

    My turn then Holly.

    If you don’t care, why are you still responding to me?

  11. Holly says:

    If you dont care, why are you still responding to me?

    Because it’s fun to watch you contradict yourself, fail to realize that there are links to information you want, and fail so spectacularly at your goal of demonstrating “that the believing position is not ridiculous and unfounded.”

    I can also tell that, given how you obsess about marriage and stuff, your own marriage is on the rocks and you need something to distract you from how crappy your home life is, so keeping you busy at the computer is actually compassionate service.

    So, let’s read some more about how you don’t want to see the conversation get stuck on a discussion of theodicy.

  12. Holly says:

    (p.s. I don’t really know that Seth’s homelife sucks. I rather suspect it, but I don’t know it for certain–I don’t have a testimony of it. Still, I figured I might as well try that “I can read people’s minds” thingy he likes to do.)

  13. Seth R. says:

    Yes, you certainly sound like you’re having fun – amid the insults and expletives.

  14. Holly says:

    Whereas you seem pretty miserable, amid the pomposity and incoherence.

    Things must really suck in the rest of the house if you’ll stay so close to the computer for this.

  15. Seth R. says:

    Well Chanson, you think there’s much point continuing this discussion any further?

  16. chanson says:

    @164 — When believers come here and tell us we must be angry and bitter to be sitting here discussing Mormonism on the Internet, I don’t think it contributes to any kind of reasonable discussion. So perhaps we should refrain from speculating as to why Seth likes to debate people whose beliefs differ from his own.

  17. Holly says:

    @167 Yes, you’re right. But given how emphatically Seth insisted that he knew my motives, I figured at least once instance of turn about was fair play. And at least @162 I pointed out that that’s what I was doing. I doubt this alone with break him of his nasty habit, but if he has any empathy at all or the slightest ability to learn from his mistakes, he might think twice before he does it next time.

  18. Seth R. says:

    Empathy for who?

    For you?

    Or for the people who have to live with the consequences of your decisions?

  19. Holly says:

    For you?

    Or for the people who have to live with the consequences of your decisions?

    People who actually care about empathy don’t think there’s a difference.

    That was one point of the OP. You can have empathy for children and empathy for adults. It’s not an either/or. It shouldn’t be an either/or.

    That’s part of your vast and nasty problem. You think you have to and get to choose whom you have empathy for, and you withhold it, with a lot of sneering and self-righteous cruelty, from anyone you disapprove of.

    It’s what makes you repugnant and unchristlike.

    In Shot in the Heart, Mikal Gilmore’s amazing memoir about what led his brother Gary to do what he did, Mikal mentions his young Mormon cousins in Provo and adds, “They were prissy and mean in the way only well-bred Mormon children can be.”

    I read than in my 30s and I got it. I was raised to be prissy and mean. Those characteristics were inculcated in me as righteousness and missionary work and standing up for the gospel, but really, they’re just prissiness and meanness. I could empathize with both the prissy, mean cousins and the people who suffered when they met them.

    I’ll leave it to you to figure out how that applies to you.

  20. Seth R. says:

    Here’s the problem with speaking on moral issues. It’s impossible to have opinions on stuff like divorce and cohabitation without stepping on big personal landmines for people you know. I deal with cohabitating couples all the time filing bankruptcies. And they’re pretty normal folks. Nice in most respects – they’ve got their own sets of problems and I’ve got mine. They have their own strong points too. Some are nice, some are stupid, some are admirable, some are downright annoying.

    It’s just your normal slice of society. So when I oppose cohabitation in writing, I actually do have human faces in mind whom I know would not like what I’m saying. I feel bad about that.

    But what then?

    Are we supposed to drop any moral position we know would upset someone we know? Are we supposed to simply stop opposing divorce because we all know divorcees?

    The problems with cohabitation are structurally inherent in the living arrangement itself. Lack of commitment, lack of trust, and focus on personal insecurities are built into the core DNA of the living arrangement. Those are not things to be celebrated.

    Likewise, I’m not about to celebrate the fact that the large majority of divorces in the United States don’t even experience “high level conflict” between spouses, let alone what professionals would call “abuse.” People are just dropping their spouses and subjecting their kids to the low level hell of visitation just because they “don’t feel like it.” And I’m supposed to think this is a positive development for our society just because I know divorced people in my own ward?

    A huge amount of our romantic relationships in our society are being entered into, engaged in, and consumated with failure as the underlying premise. We call ourselves “saavy shoppers” and “cautious consumers” when describing LOVE. How is this healthy? How is this anything other than mentally messed up?

    Never mind the underlying financial instability that comes with the territory of cohabitation and the utter financial collapse that accompanies most divorces. As a bankruptcy attorney – I’ve never seen a divorce that was anything other than a financial disaster for the people who did it.

    This is a problem – and not just for the people doing it. For the society that has to absorb the slow erosion of the trust needed to maintain the social contract. For the lovers hamstringing or denying their relationship from square one. For the government that has to foot the bill for benefits for people who’ve financially imploded along with their relationship implosion. And worst of all, for the kids who get to have suspicion, lack of trust, and manipulation built into their life paradigm.

    Those are problems that deserve harsh language. But harsh language is most certainly, well… harsh. And it’s going to steamroll over a whole bunch on nuanced differences between people in the population it’s targeting. I don’t know how you can avoid that – other than just not having convictions that matter at all.

  21. Parker says:

    I guess if you have an authority figure who tells you something is wrong, you can find all types of reasons to support that assertion.

  22. Seth R. says:

    Yeah, that’s why my comment above was full of Thomas S. Monson quotes Parker.

  23. Holly says:

    Huh. It’s actually sort of nice to finally read an explanation for why you’re an aggressively cruel, unchristlike, nasty, hateful jerk.

    I realize that’s a bit harsh, but hey, as you yourself said, some problems “deserve harsh language.”

    This is a problem and not just for the people doing it. For the society that has to absorb the slow erosion of the trust needed to maintain the social contract.

    Your aggressive, sanctimonious, unchristlike cruelty is one of the things eroding social trust. It’s pretty hard to trust someone who feels they have the right to condemn most of society. It’s pretty hard to trust someone who states, explicitly, that they take satisfaction in trying to shame large portions of society. it’s pretty hard to trust someone who feels the he and people like him–and only he and people like him–are entitled to a great many rights and privileges.

    YOU are the PROBLEM, Seth. Not the solution.

    I pity your children. Lord, how I pity your children. What a nightmare it must be to share a house with you.

    I hope your wife realizes that whatever the financial cost of leaving you, it is inconsequential to the emotional cost to your children of being exposed, every day, to a dad like you. It’s going to poison them.

    Of course you won’t object to my saying such things, because there’s a “problem with speaking on moral issues” and there “are problems that deserve harsh language.” My world view and my convictions justify entirely my saying such things to you and about you. I have nothing to retract, nothing to apologize for. In fact, you should thank me for explaining your problems to you. Actually, I’d be doing the world a favor if I’d go to blogs where you’re a permablogger and start condemning you there.

  24. Holly says:

    ** Removed by admin by request/agreement of discussion participants **

  25. chanson says:

    Heres the problem with speaking on moral issues. Its impossible to have opinions on stuff like divorce and cohabitation without stepping on big personal landmines for people you know.

    No, the problem is that if you invent motivations and project them onto people, they just might tell you you’re wrong. I think that was amply demonstrated on this thread.

    youre an aggressively cruel, unchristlike, nasty, hateful jerk.

    + @174 : WTF? I thought this was supposed to be a civil exchange of ideas. Can you make your point in a civil and constructive manner?

  26. Seth R. says:

    ** Removed by admin by request/agreement of discussion participants **

  27. Seth R. says:

    ** Removed by admin by request/agreement of discussion participants **

  28. Holly says:

    Wow, Seth, if that’s you holding back, can’t wait to see you let go.

    And it’s pretty interesting that your definition of “civility” grants you the right to inform others that they’re a cancer destroying civilization, but there’s almost no criticism of you that isn’t uncivil.

    I admit that find it satisfying to point out when your statements are contradictory, dishonest, irresponsible, lazy, and hypocritical. It happens often.

    Oh, and is this really just “a blog debate”? I thought we were talking about “the slow erosion of the trust needed to maintain the social contract,” something that threatens the very foundation of civilization.

    If there are types of discourse that are inappropriate for “a blog debate,” even about a really important topic, then you should examine very carefully the ways in which you have been guilty of them. You might start with recognizing that assuming that you know the motivations of every single person whose behavior you disapprove of, and that those motives are uniformly despicable, is pretty darn inappropriate for “a blog debate.”

    I’ll withdraw @174, Seth, and apologize for any upset it might have caused you.

    I’ll only add, that if a hypothetical professional felt that his/her career would suffer if his/her clients were to learn about the types of things s/he says about them in a public form, s/he might reconsider those statements, and perhaps stop making them.

  29. Seth R. says:

    Holly, you comment on this blog anonymously.

    If you were having your comments on this debate published publicly for your boss and co-workers and neighbors, how would you feel? Would that tone down what you have said here?

    Chanson, if Holly is withdrawing any comments and anything is removed, feel free to also remove my response in comments #176 and #177.

  30. chanson says:

    If the participants in the discussion mutually agree that they would like to have comments deleted, I’ll delete them. Holly, by withdrawing @174, does that mean you would like it deleted?

  31. Holly says:

    Seth, I try to avoid saying things about my co-workers, boss, neighbors, and family on blogs. I might not be thrilled if they came across this discussion, but I wouldn’t worry that it could cause me much harm.

    If you feel otherwise, you might think about that.

  32. Holly says:

    @180 That wasn’t really what I meant, since I thought MSP didn’t delete comments unless they were superfluous–something along the lines of “Oh, sorry my italics are messed up–can an administrator fix that for me.” But sure, if deleting it and Seth’s comments will make things better, go for it.

  33. Seth R. says:

    Are any of those people faithful Mormons Holly? You don’t have to answer that. I just want you to think about that. You’ve said incredibly hurtful things about what Mormons hold dear. You can say that you’re only attacking Mormon religious belief and not the Mormons personally. Likewise, I could reply that I’m only attacking the concept of divorce and cohabitation and reserving judgment on individuals who actually do it.

    And everyone can think a little bit about how persuasive those distinctions between people and their intensely personal ideals are.

  34. chanson says:

    I thought MSP didnt delete comments unless they were superfluous

    Ideally, I don’t like to delete anything. But if all participants in a discussion want some comments deleted, I won’t refuse.

    Seth, is that what you meant @179?

  35. Seth R. says:

    ** Removed by admin by request/agreement of discussion participants **

  36. Holly says:

    Are any of those people faithful Mormons Holly? You dont have to answer that. I just want you to think about that.

    Seth, thanks ever so much for giving me the option to ignore one of your questions, but I’m perfectly happy to answer you here. As an answer, let me give you a link to something I published UNDER MY FULL NAME AND WON A MORMON AWARD FOR AND LIST ON MY CV. https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/divine-malfeasance/

    I have family members who are really devout Mormons and also read SUNSTONE. One of them, someone who’s very important to me, read the issue I edited, including the conclusion, which is pretty critical of the church. He told me that it was excellent and that he was proud of me.

    Youve said incredibly hurtful things about what Mormons hold dear.

    Yes, and I intend to say more, often, in many different forums. I hope to get paid for it from time to time, as I have done in the past.

    Come on, Seth. This is an ex- and post-Mormon forum. This is a place where people come to talk about the ways Mormonism is damaging and damaged.

    Your woundedness might be justified if I hung out in the bloggernacle and said there some of the things I say here. BUT I DON’T DO THAT. I don’t knock on someone’s door and say, “Hi! Will you invite me in so I can tell you why you’re a bad person and should be more like me?”

    Nor do I assume that I know the motives of everyone who is Mormon or devoutly religious. They might do things I find damaging and hurtful, but I’m not so arrogant as to imagine that I know every motive for every act that I dislike, nor so self-righteous and judgmental as to assume that those motives are invariably culpably immoral

    But you do, as you’ve shown here, and as in this gem of a comment on Andrew’s blog:

    I think a lot of the reason the gay community wants marriage is primarily to flip the bird to the Christian Right.

    And I think for a lot of them, it really does boil down to that.

    Not only is that comment unbelievably judgmental, but it’s also amazingly self-obsessed. Other people want to get married just to piss you off?! The whole thing is an intentional affront designed to insult and hurt you, and rub your face in some sort of defeat?!

    Come ON. Seriously! Take some time to consider the possibility that other people’s lives ARE NOT ABOUT YOU, that you’re not even important enough for others to waste much time worrying about what will constitute “flipping you the bird.”

    So you can write here

    Likewise, I could reply that Im only attacking the concept of divorce and cohabitation and reserving judgment on individuals who actually do it.

    but it wouldn’t be very convincing, because you don’t talk merely about negative effects of divorce or cohabitation on society. No. You intentionally denigrate the emotions and motives of people who cohabitate or divorce.

    Cohabitation basically says I want to have sex with you, but I dont want to care about you enough to commit long term.

    That’s what it says to YOU, so YOU probably shouldn’t cohabitate. But it’s not necessarily what it says to people who cohabitate. But you can’t consider even the possibility that YOU’RE WRONG.

    As for this

    And everyone can think a little bit about how persuasive those distinctions between people and their intensely personal ideals are.

    I think you should think about it A LOT.

    And I think you should talk to someone you trust about the amount of time you spend here, purposely subjecting yourself to things that you know will upset you, making statements that could damage your relationships if others were to find out about them. It’s not really in keeping with the image you seem to want to project elsewhere.

  37. Holly says:

    here’s the link to the comment from Seth in the comment above–forgot to include it.
    https://irresistibledisgrace.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/marriage-is-dead-and-we-have-killed-it/#comment-8810

  38. Seth R. says:

    Holly, I said you’ve posted hurtful things and justified it. I never said how I personally was taking those things you’ve said.

    Anyway, you haven’t really said anything about why it’s OK separate the Mormon from the Mormonism in your mind, but not OK to separate the divorcee from the divorce, or homosexual from homosexuality, or whatever else. Why is it OK to attack the issues on one subject without regard for the people behind it, but not OK on another?

  39. Holly says:

    I said youve posted hurtful things and justified it. I never said how I personally was taking those things youve said.

    Oh, OK: you find them hurtful, but you’re not hurt by them. That makes sense.

    You havent really said anything about why its OK separate the Mormon from the Mormonism in your mind, but not OK to separate the divorcee from the divorce, or homosexual from homosexuality, or whatever else.

    No, I haven’t done that. I haven’t really even tried to do that. What I’ve tried to do is

    A) show that YOU, Seth R, bankruptcy lawyer, don’t even attempt to separate the “homosexual from homosexuality, or whatever else.” I’ve tried to show that in fact you make the divorcee synonymous with divorce AND THEN INSIST THAT YOU KNOW WHAT MOTIVES DIVORCEES HAVE FOR THE DECISIONS THEY MAKE AND THOSE MOTIVES ARE SUPER, SUPER BAD AND WORTHY OF CONTEMPT AND CALUMNY. I’ve tried to show that this is uncivil and unchristlike.

    and B) suggest that there’s something different about showing up at sacrament meeting and saying, “Hey, y’all are dumb and evil!” and convening another space way from Mormons for saying, “You know, as a Mormon myself, that Mormon shit really seems to be, you know, shit.”

    Though, now that you want an explanation of “why its OK separate the Mormon from the Mormonism, but not OK to separate the divorcee from the divorce, or homosexual from homosexuality, or whatever else,” I have a few things to say.

    1. I OWN MORMONNESS JUST AS MUCH AS ANYBODY ELSE. I grew up Mormon, of pioneer and polygamist stock, graduated from seminary and institute, won prizes for my knowledge of scripture, went on a mission. I’m still a member of record. I GET TO SAY WHATEVER I WANT ABOUT MORMONISM BECAUSE I OWN MY MORMON EXPERIENCE. I CAN SEPARATE MORMONISM FROM MORMONS BECAUSE MORMONISM IS PART OF ME IN WAYS THAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE NOT A PART OF ME.

    I will grant you the same right to criticize divorce and homosexuality just as freely when you own up to being gay and divorced.

    2. Homosexuality is not a set of concepts divorced (heh) from real human beings. Unlike Mormonism, It is not and never was a set of verbal texts that can be read on their own, without reference to specific human behavior. “Homosexuality” exists as a concept because it describes actions and emotions and sensations that real human beings feel.

    Whether or not we have always had the concept of “homosexuality,” the world has always included gay behavior. It is as old as humanity. It has been punished and vilified and accepted and promoted and winked at and ignored. Many societies have prospered despite an embrace of “homosexuality.” It’s not going to go away.

    But Mormonism could go away. Religions have died out in the past and may yet die out again.

    Similarly, divorce exists because it’s a practical necessity–because sometimes people make foolish decisions, and our society has decided that it’s better to give them various options for correcting those mistakes.

    Mormonism is not a practical necessity. It’s not the answer to a mistake. MORMONISM IS AN INVENTION OF JOSEPH SMITH. It did not exist before 1830. it is separate from human beings in ways that homosexuality and divorce never were.

    There is not an official gay organization that all gays donate 10% of their income to. There is not a monolithic Church of Divorce that people join once they become divorced. Divorcees don’t listen to talks every six months by decrepit old gits who tell them why they should look down on others who aren’t divorced, and how they need to go out and convince other people to get divorced too, and how divorce is going to save the world from really terrible evils.

    The organization of the church is separate from the members, in the same way that the US government is separate from the collective citizenship of the US.

    In the same way that you can criticize the US government without indicting everyone who has ever been and ever will be American, you can criticize the actions of the LDS church without indicting everyone who has ever been and ever will be Mormon, no matter how much they want to whine and insist that any discussion of immoral or misguided church policy is an attack on all Mormons.

    In the same way that you can critique and call attention to weaknesses and flaws in the ideology guiding the US without condemning and damning everyone who has ever been and ever will be American, you can critique Mormon doctrine (which is pretty fluid anyway) without condemning and damning everyone who has ever been and ever will be Mormon, no matter who much they want to whine and insist that any discussion of silly Mormon beliefs is an attack on all Mormons.

    This is especially true given that Mormons themselves sometimes criticize the actions of the “the church” as something separate from themselves and are bugged by doctrines they find troubling and do not internal. GIVEN THAT MORMONS RESPOND TO AND TREAT AND DISCUSS THE CHURCH AS SOMETHING SEPARATE FROM THEMSELVES ON MANY OCCASIONS AND IN MANY WAYS, I GET TO DO THE VERY SAME THING, BECAUSE HEY! AS I ALREADY POINTED OUT, I AM MORMON!

    So there you go, Seth. On all sorts of grounds, I am justified in saying that MORMONISM SUCKS in ways you will NEVER be justified in saying that divorce and gayness suck.

    On top of which, I’m willing to critique and criticize Mormonism under my own name, on the record, and take the consequences.

    So you go publish an op-ed in your local paper about the evils of divorce and homosexuality, and provide a link to it here. Stand up in Sacrament meeting and tell the divorced people in your ward what you really think of them and their choices. If these things are such evils, go public with the reasons why you oppose them. Demonstrate that you have not just convictions but the courage to support them.

    Then come back here and lecture me some more “separating the Mormon from the Mormonness.”

  40. Holly says:

    Oh, and one other thing. No one here is saying that society is wrong to let anyone become Mormon. No one is saying that society would be a better place if it did not grant Mormons so many rights. No one is arguing that other people’s Mormonness hurts THEM. No one is saying, “Wow, Seth, your decision to become a Mormon is SUPER BAD FOR SOCIETY. We’re all going to hell in a handbasket because WE MADE IT TOO EASY FOR YOU TO BECOME A MORMON.”

    But you are saying that other people’s gayness and their divorces hurt YOU. You are personalizing their choices as something that is a threat and a danger to YOU.

    YOU ARE PERSONALIZING THE WHOLE BUSINESS IN WAYS THAT MAKE YOU LOOK BOTH WEAK (Really? You’re so easily threatened by what other people do?) AND CRUEL

  41. Seth R. says:

    Just a side-note, it might be interesting to go through the posts on this thread and count how many times Holly has insulted me vs. how many times I’ve insulted her.

    I’ll get to the substance here later.

  42. Suzanne Neilsen says:

    Just wondering if I get divorced, how much more will I cause the destruction of the social fabric, than when I got married. I must be a Clothes Moth larvae.
    I would say I spent hours plotting the downfall of civilization with my destructive appetite, but us moth larvae have such little brains. We blindly chow through the closet of civilization.
    And does it make a difference whether it the number of clothes I ruin or the quality?
    Is eating 10,000 Kmart specials better or worse than a Versace?

  43. Seth R. says:

    Holly, I don’t know that you owning your past Mormon experiences (and I say “past” because your language here makes it pretty clear you’ve made a firm break) makes one jot of difference to my point.

    You think that you are able to segment away the nasty Mormonism with it’s “self-centered bastard God” and his prissy and mean in the way only well-bred Mormon children can be kind of followers from the actual people who might be hurt to hear things that are important to them spoken of that way.

    I’ve been exposed to people like you a little too much for this kind of unhinged anger to really personally offend me. I’m just noting that you’ve been self-righteously grandstanding here for dozens of comments now about “insensitivity” and “jerks” and how hurtful it is to ascribe motives to people – but you don’t seem to mind doing it much when the shoe is on the other foot. You don’t mind labeling practicing Mormons as “prissy and mean”, but you object to it being pointed out that divorce over low level conflict is rather unconcerned with all the other important family ties that are broken up by it.

    There’s no mind-reading in saying that Holly. If your family connections mattered to you as much as I think they should, it would take more than constant low level disagreement to undo it all. And there’s no mind-reading going on on the co-habitation front either. Co-habitating is done for a reason in our society. It’s done because people don’t want to be tied down to the choice of their lover, and want to be able to separate with minimal fuss if it doesn’t work out. You don’t have to be a mind-reader to note that that is the same thing as entering a romance with your exit-strategy firmly in mind. And not wanting to be entangled, or tied down? The very definition of human relationships involves being entangled and tied down. The only free people are those who are completely alone in the world. So of course I see co-habitation as a refutation of what love is actually all about.

    Because it is – by-design, structurally, down to it’s very DNA. That’s what cohabitation is. A refusal to commit.

    Now people who divorce, or people who cohabitate may manage to be nice people in many other areas. They may be outstanding individuals in a variety of areas of their lives. But that doesn’t magically render them not mistaken in this area of their lives. There is no self-superiority in me saying this. I’ve got my own problems – and I’ve never once claimed that my problems are not as big a deal as yours or anyone else’s. I don’t consider my set of virtues superior to that of others. Nor do I consider my set of defects to be less of a personal liability than others.

    You chose to read arrogance and contempt into my statements. But that’s simply because you view your own world through a lens of arrogance and contempt. So you automatically assume everyone else is using the same lens you are. There’s no mind-reading in this either Holly. One has only to read through this thread to get a more than ample perspective on how you approach the world.

    You have your own words to thank for how you are perceived.

    Quite predictably, I’m sure you’re going to try the teenage trick of “I know you are, but what am I?” and say I have my own words to thank for how I am perceived as well.

    But I can accept that. I’d much rather own my own comments on this thread than own yours. No question.

    Anyway, whether you choose to see the hypocrisy of your own complaints about behavior that is – objectively – far less egregious than your own behavior on this thread won’t prevent others from seeing it and drawing their own conclusions.

  44. chanson says:

    it might be interesting to go through the posts on this thread and count how many times Holly has insulted me vs. how many times Ive insulted her.

    True. I was thinking Holly was ahead until this remark:

    Ive been exposed to people like you a little too much for this kind of unhinged anger to really personally offend me.

    A lot of interesting points in this discussion — I wonder if it’s even possible to make them without armchair-psychoanalyzing each other…?

    Thats what cohabitation is. A refusal to commit.

    I disagree, and I don’t think that’s how it’s perceived by the people doing it (or by most of the community). I think there’s a spectrum of commitment, and cohabitation is perceived as one of the rungs on the commitment ladder. It’s more committed than simply being boyfriend/girlfriend, for example.

    You see it as nothing more than a refusal to commit because you project onto people that they’re making a choice between cohabitation and marriage. But that’s not always the choice they’re making. As someone who has cohabitated, I can tell you that it was more a choice between living in the same apartment (and pooling money and responsibilities) vs. living in our own separate apartments — hence represented an increase in commitment level, not the inverse.

  45. chanson says:

    Actually, my own life provides kind of an interesting case study for the discussion on this thread:

    I came from a culture that teaches girls that their success in life depends on landing a man. Despite having rejected much of that culture, I arrived at graduate school with the idea in my head: I’m surrounded by marriage prospects, so now it’s time to pick one and settle down!

    My first date with my first husband was on my 21st birthday. He was a nice guy and a great boyfriend, but I shouldn’t have married him. I wasn’t ready for marriage, and he wasn’t a person that I ultimately wanted to spend my life with. If I’d been encouraged to take decision to marry more seriously, I would have made a better choice and would have avoided costly legal entanglements.

    After I had separated from my first husband, I started a relationship with my current (only true) husband. I lived with him for approximately two years before we married.

    Part of the reason for the length of this cohabitation was because of the length of time it took to get divorced. Between the waiting period and the inevitable difficulty of communicating with an ex over paperwork, I was legally “married” to someone else almost the whole time I was engaged to (and living with) my current (only true) husband.

    However, even without the legal entanglement, I would still have waited before getting married! I learned my lesson the first time. I refuse to jump into a marriage before I’m sure it’s the right one because I take the marriage commitment very seriously. Getting married to someone you’ve never lived with is a way of saying that you aren’t taking this commitment as seriously as it should be taken.

  46. chanson says:

    Encouraging young people in their early 20’s (with little relationship experience) to marry people they’ve known for perhaps a few months shows profound lack of respect for what a serious commitment marriage is.

    Jumping into marriage also disrespects the other person. It says “I care more about what my parents or my ward or my God(s) think than I care about being sure this is the right choice before locking you into a commitment that will affect your entire life.”

  47. Holly says:

    Seth:

    Youve been self-righteously grandstanding here for dozens of comments now about insensitivity and jerks and how hurtful it is to ascribe motives to people but you dont seem to mind doing it much when the shoe is on the other foot.

    Show me one instance in this thread where I ascribe motives to a single human but you. One. I suppose you could quote this, from @120, where I was imitating you:

    I was thinking about how easy it is to vilify the reasons people get married. Theres always that very Mormon reason:

    I want to have sex, but Im too afraid and immature to do it until someone from my church tells me its OK, so lets get married right away.

    or

    I really want to have a great big party and get lots of presents from my friends. In fact, thats more important to me than simply sharing my life with you. I wont feel like Im really committed to you until that happens.

    or

    I like you, but what matters most to me in how we structure our relationship are the financial and social benefits Ill get from making a public commitment to you.

    All of that is pretty much jerk territory no matter how you slice it.

    Aside from that, which I did to call attention to what you do and the weaknesses in it, I am NOT ascribing motives people. I am not doing the thing I object to you doing.

    you object to it being pointed out that divorce over low level conflict is rather unconcerned with all the other important family ties that are broken up by it.

    That’s not what I’m objecting to. I don’t think divorce is something that should be cavalierly done.

    If your family connections mattered to you as much as I think they should,

    there you go again, projecting how I or anyone else should value something.

    That’s not a judgment you get to make. What you think I should value is entirely immaterial to this or any other conversation.

    Never offer an argument or critique based on any such assumption again, because it doesn’t matter.

    so you automatically assume everyone else is using the same lens you are

    Whereas you assume that everyone SHOULD use the same lens that you use.

    That’s arrogant.

    Anyway, whether you choose to see the hypocrisy of your own complaints about behavior that is objectively far less egregious than your own behavior on this thread wont prevent others from seeing it and drawing their own conclusions.

    “Objectively,” huh?

    Back at you.

    Can’t help noticing that you don’t actually respond to a single point I raise in this:

    Homosexuality is not a set of concepts divorced (heh) from real human beings. Unlike Mormonism, It is not and never was a set of verbal texts that can be read on their own, without reference to specific human behavior. Homosexuality exists as a concept because it describes actions and emotions and sensations that real human beings feel.

    Whether or not we have always had the concept of homosexuality, the world has always included gay behavior. It is as old as humanity. It has been punished and vilified and accepted and promoted and winked at and ignored. Many societies have prospered despite an embrace of homosexuality. Its not going to go away.

    But Mormonism could go away. Religions have died out in the past and may yet die out again.

    Similarly, divorce exists because its a practical necessitybecause sometimes people make foolish decisions, and our society has decided that its better to give them various options for correcting those mistakes.

    Mormonism is not a practical necessity. Its not the answer to a mistake. MORMONISM IS AN INVENTION OF JOSEPH SMITH. It did not exist before 1830. it is separate from human beings in ways that homosexuality and divorce never were.

    There is not an official gay organization that all gays donate 10% of their income to. There is not a monolithic Church of Divorce that people join once they become divorced. Divorcees dont listen to talks every six months by decrepit old gits who tell them why they should look down on others who arent divorced, and how they need to go out and convince other people to get divorced too, and how divorce is going to save the world from really terrible evils.

    The organization of the church is separate from the members, in the same way that the US government is separate from the collective citizenship of the US.

    In the same way that you can criticize the US government without indicting everyone who has ever been and ever will be American, you can criticize the actions of the LDS church without indicting everyone who has ever been and ever will be Mormon, no matter how much they want to whine and insist that any discussion of immoral or misguided church policy is an attack on all Mormons.

    In the same way that you can critique and call attention to weaknesses and flaws in the ideology guiding the US without condemning and damning everyone who has ever been and ever will be American, you can critique Mormon doctrine (which is pretty fluid anyway) without condemning and damning everyone who has ever been and ever will be Mormon, no matter who much they want to whine and insist that any discussion of silly Mormon beliefs is an attack on all Mormons.

    You say you want an actual defense of a position, but when you get it, you ignore it.

    All you really respond to are psychoanalyzing and insults. They’re all you offer as well.

    Ive been exposed to people like you a little too much for this kind of unhinged anger to really personally offend me.

    that comment demonstrates pretty amply one of my criticisms of you: you come to a forum created by and for people you feel contempt for. You express your contempt openly. YOU ARE THE OUTSIDER HERE. And as the outsider, you tell people that they are wrong to discuss the flaws and weaknesses they see in a community they have been a part of.

    I don’t care what you think of me or anyone else here. I just think it’s awfully rude of you to advertise it so openly, and very hypocritical of you to object to our statements HERE about Mormons when we ourselves have been Mormons. It’s one thing to say “I hate that lousy so-&-so” in your own home, to your own friends. It’s another to say it to that so-&-so, in his or her home.

  48. Holly says:

    A lot of interesting points in this discussion I wonder if its even possible to make them without armchair-psychoanalyzing each other?

    I think this exchange is instructive:

    Seth @ 121: Chanson, if Im wrong, then why do I have such a hard time finding any societal discussion of children that isnt couched entirely in adult-centered paradigms, with adult fulfillment as the primary overriding concern? The very language that adults use to defend their own lifestyle choices speaks quite a lot about the assumptions they hold and what they prioritize. I see a lot of talk of adults getting what they are entitled to. I dont see a lot of concern for anything beyond the sphere of the individual.

    Chanson @122 Youre kidding. You seriously cant find any societal discussion of children that isnt couched entirely in adult-centered paradigms, with adult fulfillment as the primary overriding concern? Is the scroller on your browser broken, preventing you from scrolling up and reading the OP?

    Seth @124 First off, I wasnt talking about your original post when I made that observation Chanson. Secondly, youve shifted the topic to children.

    Of course when people are talking about CHILDREN, they tend to talk about children.

    I was talking about discussion of marriage primarily and other adult unions. When people talk about marriage yes the discussion does tend to go adult-centered rather rapidly.

    Holly @126

    Seth @124 Of course when people are talking about CHILDREN, they tend to talk about children.

    Everyone paying attention will notice that that contradicts

    Seth @121 if Im wrong, then why do I have such a hard time finding any societal discussion of children that isnt couched entirely in adult-centered paradigms, with adult fulfillment as the primary overriding concern?

    So which is it, Seth? Is it true that Of course when people are talking about CHILDREN, they tend to talk about children or is it true that you have such a hard time finding any societal discussion of children that isnt couched entirely in adult-centered paradigms?

    Chanson @127 Oh, I see. You mean other than in discussions (like this one) where people talk about adult unions in terms of their effects on children, people never seem to talk about adult unions in terms of their effects on children.

    Seth @129 Actually Holly, good point about the wording contradictions.

    That’s it. That’s really all the response he had. It’s a matter of WORDING, not of what the words convey. He didn’t deal at all with how this contradiction undermines his entire position, or how it shows a poor memory for what he himself has written, which suggests a lack of respect and concern for the people he’s conversing with. There’s no real attempt to craft a coherent position. It’s not just that he fails to craft a coherent position. It’s that he doesn’t even try.

  49. Holly says:

    @196: Yep.

  50. Holly says:

    I must point out that Seth relies on a classic perpetrator script in this thread. It’s the sort of offensive (as opposed to defensive) tactic someone who sexually abused their child would resort to when the child begins discussing the abuse. It goes

    No one did anything to you, and anyway
    Anything that was done to you wasn’t that bad, and anyway
    No matter what was done to you, it’s in the past, and anyway
    You shouldn’t talk about it because it’s in the past and because anyway
    It would hurt people if you talked about it now, plus
    If you really loved your family the way you should, you wouldn’t even WANT to talk about it, ever, on top of which,
    You’re unhinged, so no one needs to pay any attention to you anyway.

    It’s a well established script with a well established set of pathologies, employed not just by perpetrators but by those who want to enable and protect perpetrators. Its goal is to silence and invalidate victims not just as individuals but as a class. *

    Seth performs a pretty classic example of it here, and resorts to it at least in part in most if not virtually all of the conversations he has at MSP.

    *There, Seth! I FINALLY make a blanket statement about the motives behind a widespread human action.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.