Sunday in Outer Blogness: The Empire Strikes Back Edition!

Last week our beleaguered church was mired in a horrible public-relations fiasco of its own making. Now, what do you think a wealthy corporation with an army of PR hacks would do in this situation? Leave well enough alone? Learn something from their errors? Take the good old-fashioned advice of “When you’re in a hole, stop digging”? Heavens, no! Let’s take a look at what kinds of damage control LDS Inc. has in store for us!

Naturally, President Newsroom decided to provide some context, which MormonThink translated for us. Exmormontales also pointed out that maybe Mormons knew this stuff already, but only if they’d been reading the “anti” sites the CoJCoL-dS advised them not to read. And apparently there was a discussionworthy Ensign article. LDS Inc. claimed to have no idea what Joseph’s (first) wife thought of polygamy, yet there’s enough info to make some educated guesses.

Then the peanut gallery chimed in with some really interesting defensive positions.

Meanwhile, the fallout continues. It’s become a joke. Lucky for the CoJCoL-dS, there’s some backfire effect.

Some additional good points about the problems with the polygamy essays: If “it’s 2014” isn’t a good excuse for gay marriage, as many TBM’s have told me, then “it was 1830/40” isn’t a good excuse for Joseph Smith’s and Brigham Young’s behavior, and the chronology still doesn’t add up. They’ve even invented a new logical fallacy!

And don’t let this side-show distract you from the terrible life advice the CoJCoL-dS actively giving (this time during an audience with the Pope):

As the meeting ended, I saw in the crowd a young woman. I had never seen her before, but the feeling came over me that she was the best person I had ever seen. That evening she walked into our church meeting in Cambridge. Another thought came to my mind with great power: “If I could only be with her, I could become every good thing I ever wanted to be.” I said to the man sitting next to me, “Do you see that girl? I would give anything to marry her.”

[…]

If unselfishness is the key to complementary marriage between a man and a woman, we know what we must do to help create a renaissance of successful marriages and family life.

We must find ways to lead people to a faith that they can replace their natural self-interest with deep and lasting feelings of charity and benevolence. With that change, and only then, will people be able to make the hourly unselfish sacrifices necessary for a happy marriage and family life—and to do it with a smile.

Andrew S. correctly pointed out that unselfishness is a great idea, and that selfishness/unselfishness isn’t something that’s just about heterosexual marriage relationships. My objection to it is more from a wise advice/problem solving perspective:

Sure, being selfish can lead to having a terrible marriage. In a partnership, being unselfish works better. But if you’re in a bad marriage, unselfishness can’t be guaranteed to solve more than half the problem. If you marry someone you barely know and start having kids ASAP, you might get lucky (like Eyring). And you might not.

What if your spouse is the selfish one? As far as the CoJCoL-dS is concerned, the problem is your spouse’s selfishness, and — having found a culprit to pin the problem on — the church is done. The leaders don’t have to live in your house with you, so from their perspective, finding someone to pin the blame on is as good as solving it. No need to try to analyze how such problems could be prevented in the future: the answer is the unsolvable conundrum “Some people are selfish”. And if you try to solve the problem further by getting divorced, the CoJCoL-dS will be happy to blame the failed marriage on your selfishness.

Then what about people who send messages like this one?

Please keep this email private and confidential. I trust each of you that you will not use this to further gossip or to create any discord in our ward. Let’s keep the commandment to “Judge not … but judge righteous judgement.” and to “forgive all men.” (Matt 7:1, JST; D&C 64:10)

Recently at the women’s institute, the teacher used inappropriate teaching methods to push a personal agenda on the class members that is contrary to the doctrine and beliefs of the Church. Some of the women who attended were deeply hurt, and felt confused and violated. Many knew what was happening was wrong, but did not know how to handle it, or whether they were alone in thinking what happened was wrong

That’s right, don’t gossip!! That’s why I’m sending you a confidential back-channel message full of vague accusations! Not that I’ll tell you who it was or what I heard happened — but just enough info that you can easily find out (confidentially! ssh!) if you ask around.

Some Mormons are annoyed that the Pope’s message centered on the importance of friends and family witnessing the wedding ceremony (which Mormons famously prevent in many cases), yet there’s a simple, painless solution to that problem. Additionally, I hope BYU will take this reasonable advice on how students who leave the church should be treated, instead of going more draconian on beards.

The scriptures have some pretty terrible advice for you, too, like if God tells you to do something that makes no sense, you should do it anyway. Plus they give some kinda random advice. And examples of random stupidity. Then Philip Wells covered everyone’s favorite BoM story: Korihor!

Even common clichés can’t be trusted to give good advice!

But let’s balance this negative picture with a beautiful example of charity from a believing Mormon:

Cynical as I am, I was skeptical and wondered if this might be some kind of scam, but my wife calmly assured me that these people needed our help. We were going to help them, end of story. Besides, she smiled, we had nothing of value to steal, so there was no risk. She was right, and I was a little ashamed of having been so suspicious.

I took the young woman’s car to a gas station and filled the tank with gas and checked all the fluids, while my wife returned to the store with the young woman and made sure she had food, formula, and diapers for the rest of the trip.

In the morning, the little family looked much better, rested and in clean clothes. We helped load up the car and gave the young woman some cash for gas and other needs. Before they left, the young woman broke into sobs as she hugged us and thanked us. She said she had been at the end of her rope and had been praying for help when my wife knocked on the car window.

I suppose some people would call that a miracle or an answer to prayer, but I believe that we are much more likely to create miracles and answer prayers when we are looking out for each other. Had I been the one shopping that day, I am pretty certain I wouldn’t have noticed a young woman alone and sobbing in a car with her children. I would have loaded up the groceries and gone home, and no one would have been the wiser.

On the flip side of Mormon-land there was a rather surprising and cryptic statement by the guy who found a connection between the Book of Mormon and some slightly earlier books of the same time period. An interesting discussion of determinism and perhaps an even more interesting discussion of what constitutes rape. And how good a gift was christ’s sacrifice?

Anyway, let’s get to the fun stuff! The Expert Textperts found some amazing gems in Jack Chick comic books!

In books, LittleMissAttitude is writing a novel. Knotty read a terrible LDS-interest book so you don’t have to! And BCC provided a gift guide of LDS-interest books. Since theirs is faith-promoting-heavy, I’d like to offer my own, but I’m a little behind on my reading. I’ve got a few reviews in the channel, but probably nothing new in time for Christmas. You can always check out Mormon Alumni Books for ideas, though. I just added an FAQ page yesterday — hope you like it!

In other random stuff, there was some new evidence for a genetic component to sexual orientation.

Well, that’s it for this week! Dare I hope things will continue to get more entertaining?

chanson

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

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6 Responses

  1. Donna Banta says:

    Love the new FAQ page on the MAA site. There are some great holiday gifts ideas over there. 🙂

  2. chanson says:

    Thanks!!

    For exmo mystery-lovers, definitely consider False Prophet — a fun read!

  3. Holly says:

    The MormonThink translation of that bullshit statement from the newsroom is very good.

    Here’s a podcast with Kate Kelly and MSP blogger Alison from the Mormon Expositor that covers the same material. http://mormonexpositor.com/84-do-members-really-know-about-joseph-smiths-polygamy/

  4. Parker says:

    I think it commendable that a prominent church leader will point out to the world that he and his wife have a beautiful successful marriage because neither are selfish. Although he didn’t mention his humility, it takes a humble person to set themselves up as a model of a successful marriage relationship.

  5. Holly says:

    @4: LOL! Yeah, they rarely miss a chance us all know that they are paragons of virtue and we would all be so much better off if we would just imitate them in absolutely everything. That’s why they have the god-given right to tell everyone else what to think and do.

  6. chanson says:

    @3 Thanks for the link — I just added it to the sidebar.

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