Sunday in Outer Blogness: Family Christmas Survival Edition!
Those Christmas family gatherings can bring priceless joy, but can sometimes also involve treading in dangerous waters. Some have boundary problems deciding what to say (for example the first comment here is fascinating, but perhaps wouldn’t be helpful in some family Christmas Eves…), and some have still-open wounds. And even without family complications, finding your own way through your own demons can be a challenge.
(Of course — thanks to today’s modern technology — you can receive hurtful personal criticism from random strangers on the Internet without even leaving your house! Or you can get them the old-fashioned way.)
If your family looks like this classic SNL sketch (or like Yahweh’s), I recommend Emily Pearson’s Holiday Emotional First Aid Kit for some sage advice on how to navigate the stress. Also, you can get examples of how to get over unwarranted mom guilt and take care of yourself from unexpected sources.
Heather also included some good advice for family communication in the latest installment of her exit (or exist 😉 ) story, as well as another interesting point:
As it turns out, South Park is more accurate than what I had been taught at church, at CES Institute classes or at BYU. Now I donâ€™t really care if Joseph Smith translated it from a rock in a hat or from a tattoo on the backside of a unicorn, I just wanted the people who claim to speak for God and have authority to tell me how to run live my life to be honest and consistent with what they say. It made me realize that if the words of a current member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and one of the first three witnesses to the Book of Mormon could be considered anti-Mormon literature, then anti-Mormon literature was a myth. And here was undeniable, in-my-face evidence from the Churchâ€™s own website that the organization that I had trusted so much had not been completely honest with me.
Profit had a similar experience:
Please let me draw your attention to the first sentence:
â€œthe Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curseâ€¦â€
Say what??? Isnâ€™t that exactly what the Lord did when he was talking to Nephi? Didnâ€™t the lord himself divinely curse the poor Lamanites with a skin like flint?
The statement from the church goes on to say it condemns these racist doctrines unequivocally.
Now donâ€™t get me wrong, I am happy as a clam that the church is trying to put the racist stuff in the past and look to the future. But didnâ€™t they just disavow the very foundational book that the church was founded on? The Book of Mormon is why we are called Mormons after all. It is a story of white guys and flint guys, good guys and bad guys, blessed guys and cursed guys. I mean the whole book is based on these two groups. I canâ€™t imagine how the story would read if you took out the references to colors and curses.
Maybe that is the long term plan, maybe in 50 more years that book will be just an allegory, a remnant of the past as taught by female priesthood holders. Maybe they are saying the entire Book of Mormon was just a theory of some guy. Or maybe this is all just a ruse to appease the masses and win more converts while deep down inside the leaders still believe that God will curse the evil apostate with a dark skin for causing the church grief.
It seems the CoJCoL-dS has started on a new campaign of inoculation against getting upset about the church lying to you and/or misinforming you while not technically lying as prophesied by Mithryn. I think Runtu’s explanation of the fundamental tension between following your own conscience and obeying and sustaining church leaders is very helpful here. J. Stapley recommended compassion when discussing the implications of leaders being wrong, but when when discussing the new inoculation page on the First Vision, he starts with:
Some antagonists of Mormonism have locked-on pitbull-like to the various accounts Joseph Smith made of the First Vision. The article correctly states that since their discoveries, â€œthese documents have been discussed repeatedly in Church magazines, in works printed by Church-owned and Church-affiliated presses, and by Latter-day Saint scholars in other venues.â€
Sorry, but I think by opening with this defensive offensive against questioners before even explaining the question is absolutely the wrong foot to start on. It is the added insult to injury that sprinkles salt in the wounds caused by the church’s dishonesty, and is generally unwarranted:
â€œthese documents have been discussed repeatedlyâ€¦â€
Wrong. It may have been discussed amongst a few English speaking Euro-American academics and history buffs but it surely wasnâ€™t discussed with non-English speaking members like Tongans (of which I am one). Making something available to a very small percentage of the church does not equal discussed repeatedly within a multilingual church. Publishing something randomly and infrequently in obscure church material or academic publications does not mean the church has aggressively taught something. Placing something in a dark corner doesnâ€™t mean it has been brought to light.
For the positive side of religion and race, Box Turtle Bulletin highlighted a heart-warming story of an aging white congregation that welcomed the arrival of a young traditionally black congregation that lost their own church over support for gay rights.
If you attend LDS church, be sure to wear pants next week! (Or not, if you’re traditionally expected to.) The feminist Mormon housewives gave a clear explanation of what was wrong with the “some feminist thinkers” remark at conference, including an upbeat follow-up and a fun film recommendation for kids! (I’m definitely putting that one on my list!)
Good luck on your upcoming family holidays (or not) and remember you’ll always have Outer Blogness! 😀