Sunday, May 06, 2007

Attitudes

I can’t motivate you – other than perhaps make you angry. I have long realized that one can no more motivate people to do things they do not want to do than one can get a movie star to be your lover. So when asked to speak to my colleagues on their “attitude” for the new Advisory Program at our school I found myself facing a rather dismal prospect. Still, it mattered to me, and I thought perhaps I could get my fellow teachers to at least think a new thought; reaching into their own experience to find the desire to do this new and difficult thing.

The speech outline that follows attempted to use my experiences to remind them of their own, my reasons for wanting to succeed to help them find their own.

I. I began by admitting that I would probably get emotional because, I explained, I can remember when I didn’t have a job. I remember when being a teacher was a dream. There are 2 and ½ accredited Social Studies teachers for every open position in Utah, and prospects are better now than they were years ago; and for all these years I have lived my dream come true. (Earlier in the morning a gentleman from Ken Garff Auto Dealership had given us all a nice coupon for auto service and a discount on a car – but, I pointed, out that I did not become a teacher to get a new car.)

II. I asked them all to remember why they became teachers. How wonderful it is to be paid – and quite well - to study, to actually live, in the field one is interested in. But that is not my motivation. I want to share my love for history with others. There is a universal truth, we get greater joy from giving to others the things we love than in keeping them to ourselves. How many times I have reminded myself of the pleasure of looking at Union Falls for the first time – and how soon the sixteen mile hike to that place became more of a price than I wanted to pay for that pleasure. But the joy of seeing someone I love see the falls for the first time – that is worth hikes and much more.

III. I pointed out that I remembered when one of my colleagues didn’t have a job. How he was willing to take over the supervision of the auditorium and the sound and light crew in order to get into the school.

IV. I told them I first taught at a Jr. High. There, my Principal required a faculty meeting every week and a mandatory after school party once a month. I taught the same forty-five minute lecture six times a day. Then one day the choir from the very high school I now work at came to sing Christmas carols at my school. I was so impressed with the beauty and talent of the young men and women who performed that I turned in a transfer request at the district office – asking for a high school – any high school. Some weeks later I got a note in my box to call Paul Smith. I had never heard of Paul Smith, I assumed he was an angry parent. I failed 49 of my 200 students my first quarter as a teacher – I was accustomed to calls from angry parents. Of course, Mr. Smith is still the principal at the high school at which I work. In my interview he asked if I would be the debate coach. “I’ll be the best debate coach you’ve ever had.” I confidently replied. The truth is I knew nothing about debate. The interview was in late February, and I was promised a response within two weeks. It was May before I got the call. During that time I am sure many far more impressive applicants to the job were interviewed. After making every effort to do better – the boss settled for me, perhaps because I was the only one who said yes to the debate coach job.

The previous debate coach is still at our high school. I would never have made it that first year had it not been for him. He is my hero forever. I remember when I first found out about the job, I told it to one of my staffers who had worked for me for several years, a beautiful, brilliant student from Davis High. When I had told him how I hoped to make our team a winning team, he laughed at me. There was no way Davis could ever be beaten in Debate. It took a couple of years to get there but I took great pleasure in beating Davis High nine times at the region and NFL district level.

I pointed out to my colleagues that only the other former debate coaches in the room (and there were five – including my mentor) could understand the difficulty of that task.

V. I really enjoy attending our school musicals – they are nothing short of marvelous. But I must confess I often sit in the audience burning with jealously for our school Drama Coach. To be able to make such an important and lasting impact on all those students – to bring out so much excellence in all of them. That is truly something I want – MY ADVISORY will give me such an opportunity.

VI. I have had five of my own children pass through my high school. I am grateful to all the teachers who have made them better people. My second son came to the school a rather chubby child looking for himself. He joined the wrestling team. Our wrestling coach changed his life for the better, and pretty quickly too. Coach didn’t keep my son long – because my boy is such a pacifist that he didn’t like fighting, and especially not beating other kids. Still the awareness of health and the fitness inspired by those few weeks on the wrestling team are manifest today in his healthy life style. I am amazed at what coaches have, that bring students to sweat and struggle through the long summer months – through the year - in a myriad of sports and activities. I use the coaches and the sports at our school as examples of how to suffer for success to my students all the time. I pointed out that my son had written a paper for one of the English teachers in the audience entitled – My Father Never Played Catch with Me – What is catch- too complicated a sport for me. But coaches do this all the time for so many kids. I want to use my advisory to touch lives like that, but in my own way and with my own talents.

VII. I held up a newspaper with a picture of a derailed train on it; a train carrying the components to the Space Shuttle; I pointed out that none of the assembly parts had been damaged and that the protective structures on the railroad cars were my son’s job to inspect. How he had become a mechanical engineer and a mathematics master. In Jr. High he had been tested and assigned to a basic math class – he wanted to take Algebra so he could get on the “math track” at high school. One of my fellow teachers had actually called the Jr. High and promised to help my son if they would let him into the Algebra class. He went on to take the most demanding math classes. It was not always easy. I remember nights of intense homework frustration. But he went on to master. Another teacher in the room had inspired my daughter in her Chemistry class – had taught her that she could do the most difficult things if she worked very hard at it. That same daughter has gone on to study sign language – has built her life goals around the inspiration given her by the sign language teacher at our school.

There were so many other teachers I could have mentioned – the great English teachers, the history, the LITE team advisors, the internship director that sent my one son to work with camels and yaks, a daughter, now working in the University Special Collections, to her first experience in a bookstore, and my other daughter to help with sign language interpretation in another high school working with a deaf student.

Time was more than up. I pointed to the two “handouts” I had prepared:

The first was given to us years ago by a Vice Principal, who left our school to become an LDS mission president, and later a principal at another school


“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make a life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a person humanized or de-humanized.

If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”

Goethe

I read the first line. Then asked them to read and consider the rest.

On the back was Edward Sill’s poem “Opportunity”. As a teacher I must always explain poetry before I recite. In this story a man sees a battle field – either in a dream or for real. Along one side of the battlefield the banner of the king’s son is going down, collapsing in defeat. On the other side of the battle field there was a craven, that’s a coward or a quitter. He wants to help his prince – but he looks at his sword, and thinks what a piece of junk. If I only had a better sword, [if I was only drama director, the football coach], but this piece of junk! He breaks his sword and sneaks off the battle field leaving his prince to die. Now let me give you the poem.

Opportunity by Edward R. Sill

“This I beheld or dreamed it in a dream.
There spread a cloud of dust across a plain,
And underneath the cloud, or in it,
A furious battle raged; swords shocked upon swords and shields.
A prince’s banner wavered then staggered backward,
Hemmed by foes.

A craven hung along the battle’s edge and thought,
Had I a sword of keener steel, that blue blade the king’s son bears,
But this blunt thing, he snapped; and throwing it from his hand,
He loweringly crept away and left the field.

Then came the kings son, wounded, sore bested and weaponless,
And saw the broken sword, lying hilt buried in the dry and trodden sand,
And ran; and snatched it up.
And with battle shout lifted afresh, he hued his enemy down,
And saved a great cause that heroic day.


Right now this Advisory Program is indeed a broken sword lying buried in the dry and trodden sand. Which will we be; a craven or a king?

Two other presenters followed my efforts. One presented the what an advisory is and what it is not material, and the other introduced the actual mechanics of our program. They did a wonderful job, but the young teacher who spoke of structure did preface his remarks by what must have been a sentiment in the room. He pointed out how he had been brought up on a farm and that my speech had reminded him of a spreading manure. That got a laugh. But the first liar never has a chance you know – he soon had to turn the time back to me for a short presentation on Rituals and Routines and I was able to point out that as a historian I would like to remind him that before the farmers started spreading the manure THE WORLD STARVED.

73 comments:

MindMechanic said...

Lysis...

Well said!

I am reminded of my time in the military. I was raised by sailors, old crusty chiefs and senior chiefs. In todays military they (we) would be referred to as 'dinosaurs.' When I began my service I was fortunate to have as my supervisors more of these dinosaurs...career NCO's that taught the right way. The proudest day of my career was the day I was labelled a dinosaur by one of the new breed of officers that has become far too common in todays military. I was informed the military will be a better place when people like me were finally made extinct. His remark was meant as an insult...he couldnt possibly know how proud that made me.

His was RFD as part of the cutbacks in the 90's...seems the Total Quality Force concept lasted less time than it took to develop the concept.

I have heard this new breed of officer and NCO talk derisively about todays youth, and about todays recruits. They cant be taught, they are worthless. Hogwash. The problem is not with todays recruit, it is with the 'leaders' appointed over them. They are driven by personal goals and selfish personal acheivement. They order, they dont educate. They force by authority, they dont lead by example. Worse, they set the lowest of standards and wonder why their subordinates lack standards and work ethics.

Make no mistake...the dinosaurs were tough. There was never any doubt who was in charge. But it was authority and respect earned and given, not authority and respect demanded and ordered.

To illustrate...in a 3 year span my workcenter recieved 18 new recruits. Each supervisor received 6 of these new recruits. My 6 are all still active duty. One has gone on to become an officer. One transferred to become a recruiter and has done a stellar job. The other four have continued in their career progression ahead of their peers. 4 of the 6 were promoted below the zone-none of the other 12 were.

I was forced to send one of the individuals into corrective custody for 30 days. the choice was rebluing or separation. I saw value in him and told him that his 'punishment' was meant to give him the opportunity to save his career. He was none too pleased with me for the next few years. he was then reassigned. He contacted me just months ago. He is on his third enlistment and has progressed in his career. He has gone back to college. His future is bright.

I am in constant contact with the other individuals and their families. My life has been enriched by theirs and I believe theirs has by mine.

The other 12 are no longer in the military. I know 2 of them served time in both military and civilian jails for crimes ranging from rape to robbery.

Not to overplay or underplay my role...but I was just doing as I had been taught by generations of dinosaurs...committed, dedicated career professionals who understood their role in the development of men. We teach and then reinforce standards. We reward positive progress, we punish deficit behavior (appropriately) and then follow up with positive reinforcement and encouragement. We set the example. we live the example.

My greatest military career accomplishment is that today, there are a few more dinosaurs still roaming the earth.

Families benefit from your teaching example. Scout leaders would. Young Mens program leaders would. Every environment would.

I wonder if those that equate your message to spreading BS are really just to self centered and/or lazy to actually invest in the time necessary to do the job.

Lysis said...

Mindmechanic;

I appreciate your comments. I have been made aware of many who were inspired by the thoughts our discussion stirred – however there are of course those who are angered by any argument that would force them to question their commitment.

I am deeply impressed by the level of your service and the depth of your impact. It is gratifying to know that not all dinosaurs are extinct. I was interested to see how many of my colleagues were able to likewise find strength to go on in the positive accomplishments of their carriers. I have been blessed to hear many stories of success and determinations to rededication.

I am baffled by those who demand failure while belittling those who seek success. I listen with growing concern to those Americans who are eager for America’s failure in the War on Terror. I was interested to hear Bin Laden’s #2 mocking both the President and the Congress and then go on to threaten us all. He seems to be banking on the extinction of the dinosaurs.

MindMechanic said...

While it cant be said of ALL the left...it IS amazing the number of those on the left that bash Bush for not being intellectually curious, and then clearly and OBVIOUSLY demonstrate those same characteristics. I suspect the reson is simple...it requires personal effort.

How many on the left bash Bush for citing Iraqs WMDs, yet stare at you as if you are speaking greek when you point out Clintons comments on Iraq and WMDs?

How many clamor to get out of Iraq and end the war, eyt cant give you an intelligent answer when asked who it is they hope to surrender TO?

How many laugh at God and faith, yet cannot see that whyen it comes to their own positions they are clueless as to their own origins, let alone the 'faith' required to accept the scientific positions?

How many are critical of those that dont walk lock-step with the Gore crowd, yet cant answer simple questions when it comes to Kyoto, Global Warming, history, carbon credits, etc etc etc.

It is easier to be an authoritarian...it takes very little individual effort. How dare you suggest they actually take responsibility for the lives and position with which they have been entrusted.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole said ...

MindMechanic,

You make excellent comments. Any comments about them from me would only detract.

Lysis,

Typically everyone has within the realm of his experience a teacher that inspires; typically everyone also has within that same realm a teacher that crushes inspiration.

The separating quality between a great teacher and a non-teacher is perhaps the ability to recognize the very moment in which these life changing experiences are presented, and then to seize upon them.

Coach Carter was the basketball coach; he was also my counselor. I heard some of the more intelligent students at my high school discussing scholarship opportunities among themselves one afternoon. I worked up the nerve to ask them how to pursue those same opportunities. One of the girls suggested that I take it up with my counselor.

I didn’t even know who my counselor was! I went to the office and asked; then I made an appointment with Coach Carter. When the appointed time arrived, I sat in Coach Carter’s office waiting for proper instruction. He asked me what I wanted, and I told him. He told me that he really couldn’t be bothered with such trivial “questions”, and sent me on my way.

Coach Carter was not a great teacher. He ignored the moment. He means nothing to me. He is irrelevant in my life.

I had Mr. Harris for Biology in the ninth grade. We called him “Super Chicken” because of his skinny neck and large Adams apple. No one really liked him. We were taking a test, and I asked Connie Bennett for an answer. I was silent as the “Super Chicken” walked past. I asked Connie again, and Mr. Harris came over and made one simple request: “I thought one would have been enough.” He didn’t take my test; he never brought it up with me again. He didn’t have to. I was so humiliated I never cheated on a test in any subject again.

Mr. Harris was a great teacher. He understood the moment. I hope to be able to thank him some day.

It would be most pleasing to me if you could present these comments to your disenchanted colleague at the seeming “spreading of manure.” He fails to see the moment, and to grasp the opportunity. He is not a good teacher; in fact, by ignoring this most important of messages, he demonstrates he is not worthy to carry the title of teacher.

Fortunately for our children, you and many like you still grace the halls of our public institutions.

Carpe’ Diem. Seize the day.

Lysis said...

Thanks for your point.

Lysis said...

I can’t help but think that the “attitude” demonstrated by the French people is worth noting. I have been amazed to hear the Democrats insist that America’s efforts to defend the world from Muslim Terrorism have made our country unpopular with other nations. It seems that, once again, what the media reports and what the people really feel are at odds. I am confident that the voters of France are very grateful to our President and to our military for making the world a better place. How terrifying it would to be a “has been” power like France in a world where there was no champion of the right.

Dan Simpson said...

How glad am I that I was able to go to Layton before you left Debate for Drama.

My younger sister went through what they called their Debate program years after I had graduated. It was as a firefly to the sun.

Teaching is all about attitude. I thought long and hard about becoming a high school teacher. The fact that I didn't relentlessly pursue that goal tells me that I wouldn't have made a stellar teacher. Maybe some day.

I am grateful for the wonderful teachers in my life.

Lysis said...

I was interested to hear of Al Sharpton’s attitude toward Mormons.

“As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyway, so don’t worry, that’s a temporary situation.'"

Isn’t it interesting whom one is allowed to slander with impunity in this country: The President, the military, and the Mormons? Not bad company at that.

Reach Upward said...

My fourth grader is very intelligent, but has had difficulty bringing that intelligence to bear in a productive manner. He struggled with the structure of Kindergarten and 1st grade. And then he had the tremendous fortune of being assigned to Mrs. Powell's 2nd grade class.

Mrs. Powell uses her natural talents to approach teaching from a unique angle. She employs rhymes, poetry, and song to teach 2nd graders just about any topic. My son now excels in math. His understanding of math began to gel via Mrs. Powell's teaching methods.

Toward the end of the school year, Mrs. Powell's class performed a children's version of Macbeth, in which my son played Macduff. (This is not nearly as grisly as it may seem.) I was completely astounded to see the performance. Each child performed far beyond what we have come to accept as normal for 2nd graders. My son's performance was marvelous. His growth during that school year was nothing short of miraculous.

I will be forever grateful to Mrs. Powell for being a miracle worker. My son has been just one the many beneficiaries of this. His achievement in the subsequent two years has been built substantially on his development during 2nd grade.

No amount of money could properly compensate Mrs. Powell. But I suspect she receives fulfillment far beyond any monetary value. She is an example of a teacher that really 'gets it.'

Anonymous said...

so what does it mean to "really" believe in god?

Anonymous said...

O.k., I can't stand it. Did Lysis call Mormons good company and talk about one's attitude all in the same thread? This is the same Lysis who wonders at his colleagues cynicism and poor attitude but reflects it when he discusses his feelings toward his church's General Conference and attending Sunday School?

Anonymous said...

Silver Lining posts:

Sharpton claims he was speaking of his opponent and not Romney when he spoke of those who don't really believe in God. the link is below.

http://www.examiner.com/a-717547~Sharpton_Denies_Disputing_Romney_s_Faith.html?cid=rss-Politics

He was debating an atheist about the supposed evils of religion. I would be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt if he weren't bringing up Romney out of the blue. Furthermore, you would think if he was referencing his opponents atheism he would say those of us who believe in God not those of us who really believe in God.

He will largely get a pass though.

Reach Upward said...

Sharpton can spin his statement any way he wants, but he clearly said that those that believe in God would defeat the Mormon (Mitt Romney). He later said he misspoke and seemed rather humble about it.

It's actually kind of humorous to see somebody call Sharpton on PC issues. He has built a career using bigotry and persecuting others for their real or supposed bigotry. But it has been taboo to call him on it. Now he's getting a dose of his own medicine. I suppose it doesn't taste very good.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we are being too harsh on Rev Al. I am sure he is gearing up to go protest the governments slow response in Kansas. I am sure he and Jessie are raising their voice in support of the victims of the tornado there. All that pressure caused him to slip up and speak his real ignorance and not the carefully crafted words he is famous for.

Lysis said...

Anonymous;

Yes I did say that Mormons were in good company when they are attacked along with the President and the Military. That does not necessarily mean the Mormons are good company – but since I am one I probably wouldn’t take exception to that claim.

I would also like to point out to you – Anonymous - that questioning the leadership is permitted in Mormonism. In fact Mormons are, or at least traditionally were, encouraged to question. However, Sharpton’s propounding an obvious lie – that Mormons don’t believe in god - in order to gain political points is a difference case. This is something that any reasoning person can recognize.

I also see a difference between voluntary church meetings and participation, and ones obligations in employment. Since teachers at my high school are required to implement Advisories it seems they should make every effort to make them successful.

I would add that I have nothing against those who wish to raise legitimate concerns about the Advisory program, even as I would have nothing against opponents of the War on Terror raising legitimate criticism of it. However neither the naysayers in the high school nor the Democrats in Congress offer any legitimate arguments, constructive criticism or suggestions to move forward.

Silver Lining;

Sharpton is lying. He said what he meant and he meant what he said. Now he is lying again n an attempt to get off the hook. I have heard that Sharpton, rather than apologizing, is threatening the Romney campaign. Something like, “you (the Romney people) have no idea who you’re taking on with this.” Doesn’t sound like he is very conciliatory.

As to his getting away with it. I guess that is the choice of the people. If those who boil with pretended anger over racial remarks or slights to Islam can overlook Sharpton’s bigotry they are truly hypocritical.

Silver Lining said...

He is indeed. I was willing to give him some benefit of the doubt but more than threaten the Romney campaign, he has gone after Romney and the LDS church for being built on segregation. He is attempting to call Romney out of this and concludes his comments by saying that if Romney believes in a church based on segregation then he doesn't believe in God. I am paraphrasing of course, but you only need check the Washington Post for direct quotations.

There is a saying about giving someone enough rope. Al Sharpton is a great example.

a quiet listener said...

sharpton's ridiculous backpeddling is more scripted than kerry's excuse of his "botched joke." i agree. he meant what he said. as a reverend you'd think he'd have learned that we'll be judged as we judge. since he called for imus' oust; i think it's only just that his sponsors and eventually his boss fire him as well.

Lysis said...

There is NO DEFENSE for the Mormon Church’s century long raciest policy. Thinking and reasonable members of the LDS Church should and did condemn the bigoted practice of withholding the priesthood from Blacks.

For what it is worth, I fought vigorously against this policy from the moment I understood it.

Mormons in the “here and now” must condemn as uninspired and bigoted the raciest polices of the Church in the past. Mormons can do this in “good faith” because neither the Church nor its leaders have ever claimed infallibility. The Church was just wrong to withhold the Priesthood from people because of their race.

That leaders of God’s church – even living prophets - can make stupid mistakes is well documented in the Bible. Old Testament Prophets continually did the wrong thing – taught the wrong thing. Moses was a murderer – no one can excuse his murder of the Egyptian, nor should they. We all accept that Moses was wrong to take credit for providing for the Israelites in the wilderness – God punished him for his arrogance. No one would defend Johana for his attempt to shirk his call to Nineveh; how stupid for a prophet of God to think he could run away from God on a ship! Consider that whole Lot thing over Sodom and Gomorra. David may have danced before the Lord but he also murdered a man in order to steal his wife.

The Old Testament is full of other ridiculous claims. Abraham’s attempt to kill his own son as a human sacrifice; sending another into the desert along with his mother to die, and that silly story about God killing the innocent first born children of the Egyptians because Pharaoh had had his heart hardened by God Himself; Joshua’s genocide of the seven nations of the Amorites; Samuel the Prophets insistence that children and even animals must be massacred for the sins of others. We could go on and on.

In the New Testament we have Peter denying Jesus, and the Peter and Paul getting in nasty fights over who can be a Christian. Paul by the way started out as a bit of a bigot himself. My point is that modern Mormons are not unique in their religious acceptance of very un-Godly behaviors.

No, the thing that Mormons need to do is admit, up front that from Brigham Young to Spencer Kimball, the Prophets of God allowed themselves to be blinded by racism. Kimball finally recognized the Truth and changed the policy.

MindMechanic said...

Lysis...

In the words of Yoda..."so certain are you..."

You dont KNOW the intent, heart or will of God or the prophets. You have YOUR position, and bless you for it, but for you to make that claim is simply blindly arrogant and wrong.

OR perhaps you can shed this insight on how you have come this absolute knowledge. I suppose that it is possible that, flying in opposition to all the tenents of the church, God has spoken for the church through you.

I'd even be fine if your position was that "it is my opinion that..."
However...you speak as you often do...in absolutes with pretense of authority.

There is no defense NEEDED, just as there is no defense needed for defense of the practice of polygamy.

The same angry passion you speak with is exhibited by those today that speak out against the church and it's position on homosexual marriage. One can even make reasoned arguments against it. But it is not the church's will...rather it is Gods will.

Or maybe you know better on this as well.

Lysis said...

Mindmechanic;

I’m not angry. If the truth is passion, then I am passionate, but I am not angry.

Furthermore, I am not speaking for myself; I merely repeat the words of God. Consider these scriptures:

2nd Nephi 26: 33

Acts 10: 28

Romans 2: 11

Acts 10: 34 – 36

I challenge you to work you “internet magic” and find anything in Mormon Scripture or the official doctrines of the LDS Church that contradict these “revelations” from God.

As for the absoluteness of my tone – yes I am certain that it is unjust to judge a person by the color of his skin. A just and reasonable God cannot act unjustly or unreasonable. What is evil in 2007 was evil in 1907. What is right and true is also eternal and does not begin with the statutes of men or the prejudices of individuals.

As for polygamy – I have lived through the evolution of Mormon Doctrine concerning it. My Mother’s aunt was a polygamist wife, and died alone and heartbroken when her husband chose another to be his “legal” wife. When I was young, it was taught in the church that the day would come when all those who are bound for the celestial Kingdom would have to enter into polygamist marriages during the Millennium. Such teachings are now banished from the LDS Church – but they are not blotted from my memory.

How the church deals with Homosexuality remains to be seen. One is forced to wonder what the future will bring on that account. Time will tell, but the truth will not change.

MindMechanic said...

Lysis...

I understand passion. Do you understand humility?

We had a member of our ward...the bishops brother in fact...who quite frequently rose to the pulpit during testimony meetings to bear witness to the failings of the church and it's leaders. He frequently prophesied about the direction the church needed to take. It was painful, often embarassing, usually annoying, and always sucked the spirit from the meetings.

You make the claim "what is evil in 2007 was evil in 1907." OK. Blacks were allowed to join the church. Blacks were allowed to hold the Aaronic preisthood. For whatever reason, blacks were not allowed to hold the melchezidek priesthood but it was foretold that someday they would.

I dont recall ever anywhere where the church or it's membership encouraged bigotry. I do know that the church has long taught on the African continent, has long taught and provided support there and in many other places.

I dont doubt that there ARE members of the church that are bigots, because members of the church are people and fallible. Just as I do not doubt that some members who engaged in the practice of polygamy did so for selfish reasons and not with spiritual intent. Same reasons.

My guess is that those that engage for worldly reasons are the same that chose to split off from the church when the practice of polygamy was ended and when the melchezidek priesthood was extended to all. They lacked the same thing.

I dont know Gods reasons as to why women are not allowed to hold the priesthood. I dont know Gods reasons as to why for a certain time blacks were not allowed to hold the melchezidek priesthood (though lets play the worldly game...at least blacks are better treated in the church than women because at least they CAN now hold the melchezidek priesthood and they have ALWAYS been able to hold the Aaronic preisthood...right?). I also dont pretend to attempt to unravel Gods purpose in denying sanction to homosexuals. I can logically understand the reason for the practice of polygamy, but still dont pretend to understand Gods reasons.

REASONS, Lysis. Does it ever occur to you that there MIGHT be something you simply do not know? That there MIGHT be REASONS for the policies and prophecies enacted by God through the prophets? Reasons that YOU may not undertsand...may NEVER understand...may COMPLETELY disagree with...but reasons nontheless? Reasons that for some strange purpose God and the prophets didnt clear through you?

Thats just a thought. Or maybe I am wrong. Maybe I am mistaken...you are right...that YOU know the intent of God and/OR (because lets be honest...your train of thought has them non-prophets) all the prophets from Brigham Young to Spencer Kimball, and that YOUR position is the right, absolute, and correct position.

Anonymous said...

Cicero says,

Mindmechanic...Well said, I believe that Warren Jeffs is divinely inspired, communicates with God and has worked his whole life to spread the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ. It is so refreshing to hear that there are people in the world (you)who will defend your faith with faith at all costs. Men of faith, who will look beyond the mere mortal fallacies of men who are in positions of power. Right now many people do not believe that Jeffs could possibly be a man of God because of his legal and preceived moral failings.

I could not even begin to reasonably explain why I know that Jeffs is a true prophet of God...I can only rely on my faith. It will carry me home! We must continue to defend unreasonable religious positions and scriptural interpretations (Lysis)with our faith.

Those who fail to share our faith based assertions deserve to be labled heretics and prideful

Silver Lining said...

I actually agree with Lysis about the church making a mistake regarding blacks and the priesthood.

However, this does not mitigate Al Shapton's attacks. It does not mean the LDS church is a church based on segregation any more than the baptist, methodist, and presbyterian churches who at one point supported slavery are based on segregation.

Furthermore, pointing out mistaken and racist policies does not mean Mitt Romney, or Mormons as whole, don't really believe in God.

MindMechanic said...

Ahhh...Cicero...sarcasm...a truly powerful debate tactic.

let me ask you...do you BELIEVE Warren Jeffs is a prophet? Do you follow his teachings?

What about David Koresch...do you BELIEVE...do you follow?

Or do you believe they are false prophets?

I have this silly little part of me that contributes to the definition of my faith...is the church led by prophets? Are prophets called of and by God? If the answer to that question is yes...then that puts me in a position of discipleship. If the answer to that question is no...then I do not believe in the church.

Do I believe prophets are human and fallible? Certainly...as are all men. Do I believe that God and prophets might know better than me? Yes. Do I believe there might be things (and follows, reasons FOR those things) I dont understand? Sure.

I'll get back to you after I have had the luxury of God revealing to me the heart, will and mind of prophets and king, and the next direction of the church, as apparently he is engaging in that practice fairly frequently now.

Silver Lining said...

Mind Mechanic,

There is ample evidence that Joseph Smith ordained at least one if not more black men to the priesthood in his life time. When he ran for President, his platform included equality for black americans. Priesthood was denied to black men from the time of Brigham Young until Spencer W. Kimball put on end to that.

Lysis' Episcopal priest is actually the first person who really explained what happened with President Kimball to me in a way that helped me to understand it fully. Her presentation was completely academic, but it put me on the road to understanding more fully myself. Read the proclamation if you will. It seems a realization validated through prayer rather than a revelation to now stop a commanded practice.

MindMechanic said...

Cicero...just for clarification...you ARE equating Warren Jeffs to Brigham Young and all the LDS prophets to SWK...correct?

MindMechanic said...

Silver Lining...

I have NO PROBLEM with your statement. You have EVERY RIGHT to disagree. Lysis has every right to disagree.

Reach Upward said...

A couple of days after the 1978 revelation on the priesthood was announced, I had the occasion to spend the entire day with a goupr of retired folks. A few of them were quite open about their own racial prejudisms and were having difficulty accepting the new teaching. Being a teenager who thought that the change was wonderful, I was rather taken aback.

I have my opinions regarding the nature of the approx. 127-year ban on black men holding the M. priesthood. But I also understand that different perspectives on it exist. It is interesting, for example, to reflect on the views of Dr. Marcus Martins (a black university professor) on the matter (here). I cannot bring myself to be as certain as some here seem to be that his views on the matter are wrong.

My father joined the LDS Church believing that polygamy had been an uninspired and misdirection. After more than 45 years of feeling quite certain that this was the case, he had a spiritual experience that led him to refute his former ideas on the matter. While he feels no compulsion to engage in the practice, he now says that the Lord had a divine purpose in it, even if many people (including church leaders) made many grievous mistakes in the execution of the principle.

We should not hold back at all in denouncing that which we know of a certainty to be wrong. But we ought to understand the source of our certainty.

Lysis said...

Cicero;

You are being sarcastic when you pledge your blind faith fealty to Warren Jeffs, a man who claims that god commanded him to marry off little girls to old men. That is obvious to us all. It would make sense to me that Mindmechanic is being equally sarcastic when he asserts his blind faith that when Joseph Smith did the same thing Smith was somehow right. Obviously it is the action – not the name of the person that perpetrating it - that makes such behavior wrong.

Mindmechanic;

For the record I never approach the pulpit during Testimony meetings, nor do I bear witness to anything. My faith is not important – the truth is.

If Blacks had the “right” to hold the Arronic Priesthood, it made it even more ludicrous to have denied them the full blessings of the kingdom based solely on race. In those days blacks could not ride in the front of the bus nor drink from the white’s only water tap. Giving them only the lesser priesthood isn’t even separate but equal – it is separate and unequal; a direct contradiction of the teachings of Jesus Christ. To continue to defend such practices as sanctioned, is to invite enemies of the Church to fault all its teachings. It would be like the history teacher here at my school who insists that, until the Constitution was amended, slavery was just.

As for the church encouraging bigotry. What does calling black people “the Devil’s representatives on earth” (John Taylor), or neutrals in the war in heaven, or unworthy of vital ordinances and power just because of race do? How can you pretend that a doctrine that forbad intermarriage between races, and condoned segregation (in the temple ceremonies) could have originated with the God that spoke to Nephi? Now that sounds arrogant to me! As Silver Lining has indicated – Joseph Smith did not practice the raciest policies of his successors. Was he a false Prophet when he gave the Priesthood to the “decedents of Cain”? These their different but we love them anyway claims are the same sort of justifications foisted on white children in the south to blunt their natural skepticism of slavery itself. These cunning excuses for exclusion, exploitation, and separation are the very essence of bigotry.

As a boy attending college I was able to shoot down this entire Blacks (decedents of Cain) can’t hold the Priesthood scam.

Read the Book of Genesis Ch 41: 50 – 52:

“And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him. And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh; For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house. And the name of the second called he Ephraim; For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

This scripture demonstrated that the birthright of Jacob – the covenant and blessing of Abraham - passed to the son’s of Joseph whose mother was an Egyptian – a decedent of Cain. Joseph Smith himself claimed to be a decedent of this same Joseph through has half Egyptian son. All Mormons claim to be decedents (either literally or by adoption) into the blood line of either Ephraim or Manasseh, and thus every Melchezidic Priesthood holder from Joseph Smith on down are decedents of Cain.

As there is no logical excuse for the Mormon bigotry of the past, there is no need to defend it in the present by pretending that is was somehow once the will of God who then came to change his mind because of the coxing of Spencer Kimball or the pressures of the American Civil Rights movements. How petty to believe that “the unchangeable God of the Universe” would reverse course on this issue just so BYU could play basketball games with other colleges.

Silver Lining;

You are exactly right about Sharpton. He is now insisting that Romney is wrong because he was a Mormon when Mormons practiced racist policies - that argument is as silly as claiming that Sharpton is a raciest because he was an American when America practiced segregation as the law of the land.

Silver Lining said...

Great article. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Cicero says:

Mindmechanic,

I have several observations to your post and response to Lysis and me:

1. It seems to me that your faith is as absolute as Lysis' reasoning. You have a true faith in the words of the prophets, they are inspired by God...their revelations fuel your faith...your absolutism. You are no different than any Muslim who believes the words of Muhammad and the Koran.

I respect the man who believes...I do not respect the man who cannot accept the beliefs of others as legitimate to them. Your attack on Lysis as prideful and not humble because he believes in his logic and reason is hypocritical to all that your faith promotes.

You do not see it this way because you are so wrapped up in your own absolute faith that you have become myoptic.

2. Yes! Warren Jeffs is no different than BYoung, Joseph Smith, or Muhammad. If you were to converse with a devout Muslim, Jew or FLDS person they would have a true belief in the prophecies of their leader and unfortuantely could be blind to opinions of others. To you anyone who does not believe in your prophets follow false prophets.

How easy it is to belive absolutely in our own faith. But this can lead us to be just as prideful as those who worship Allah or reason for that matter.

I ask you "Why are you afraid to apply the principles of logic and reason to doctrines of the LDS church?"

MindMechanic said...

Cicero...

I dont know of too many converts that choose to join the LDS church blindly. I would daresay I have done at least as much study and at least as much intense prayer in my investigation as does the average person raised in the church. Thats just a guess though.

I battled with many of the concepts taught and several of the church's positions. Ultimately I am forced to recognize that most of my arguments were raised by my stubbornness and pride.

If I did not believe the prophets to be men of God, I would not have joined the church and accepted the covenants. Of course...you find that silly and representative of "blind faith." thats OK. I'm fine with that.

MindMechanic said...

"I decided a number of years ago to leave these matters to the judgment of Him who knows all things. There is enough war, needless contention, and tragic destruction in this world. I certainly don't want to add to any of those. Therefore, I have focused my attention on teaching the gospel of the Prince of Peace, the Savior Jesus Christ, according to the dictates of our conscience, and bring people to faith, repentance, pure Christ-like love, and obedience to the commandments of God--the only way to peace and happiness in this life."

Like Dr Matins...I too adopt this ridiculous position of faith.

MindMechanic said...

Come now Cicero...your position is propped by your own struggles with certain positions held by the church. Of course you agree with Lysis...it affirms your own positions and dissent.

However...lets be VERY VERY clear here...

I have never once disagreed with or disparaged anyone for DISAGREEING with ANYTHING. Never. Not you...not Lysis...not the Anon collective. Never. I respect completely differing opinions...even opinions of those that differ with the church, and even from those WITHIN the church. I have in absolute point of fact pointed out many times my disagreements with certain clergy and the decisions they have made.

Disagreeing is normal. It is human.

Disagree? yes. Support and sustain? You bet.

My comments were not made because I disagreed with Lysis, or that he disagreed with the church. My comments were directed to the absolutism without authority...the arrogant position to assume that you, he, me or ANYONE else here knows the hearts mind and will of the prophets or God. The arrogance to assume what the church MUST do.

Do I deny him his right to speak such things? Obviously not. Do I have the right to disagree with him (and you)? Absolutely.

Once again...blind faith. I would suggest to you that there has been nothing blind in my research of the church nor my commitment to my faith. I also submit to you that since I DO have faith, I also dont think God will be addressing me anytime soon telling me of the foibles and failings of the prophets. Without that direct confrimation, I would be arrogant indeed if I claimed I knew such things with certainty.

MindMechanic said...

Your logic and reason ASSUMES that somehow affirms fact and truth. Logic and reason allows for discussion. But since you dont know the prophets, OR their intent...it makes it sort of difficult to speak to the TRUTH...relegating you to assumptions...correct?

Just a little assumption here...

If the church is true...if God is indeed in charge...(and hey...I am allowing you IF...you make the call)...IF Brigham Young was just a bigot...then LOGICALLY God would have set things right with the next prophet. IF. Or not.

Lysis said...

Quit defending the indefensible. The Church can still be true and admit that bigotry is and was wrong. I have never condemned the LDS church. I have absolutely condemned bigotry. Again, there is no need for you or any Mormon to defend the mistakes of the past. Adam, for Pete’s sake, committed great sin – that does not make him any less a prophet nor any lest the father of all men.

MindMechanic said...

Maybe you missed the part where I said I DONT defend anything. I dont have the need or desire to.

Lysis said...

Reach;

Thanks for the great article. I particularly liked these two quotes which seem to explain my long held position on the denial of the priesthood to blacks:

1. “Whether we like it or not, the priesthood ban is part of the history of the Church of Jesus Christ in this dispensation. But just like the Mountain Meadows massacre and other unfortunate episodes, the ban may be remembered as an undeniable fact in history but never as a significant factor to the present.”

2. “In my mind, the priesthood ban and its associated rationales were never part of the restored gospel. I would argue that they constituted educated responses to the social environment in which the Church existed in the late 19th and most of the 20th century.”

However, as I can see no reasonable justification for the racial bigotry embraced and defended by many Mormons for generations – and obviously still championed by some today, I would place the “segregation of blacks into a lesser position in the church” as a “wicked law or custom” rather than a “mortal law or custom”.

As I have repeatedly said – there is no defense for this dogma, and its defense is not necessary to be a believing Mormon.

Mindmechanic;

You say you don’t defend anything – but calling me arrogant, “un” humble, and implying that I am presenting my opinions as truth when I argue that racism could never have been the will of God; can surly be interpreted as defending that position. If you have now come to reject the position that God ever sanctioned bigotry, then I am gratified; if you continue to insist that He did, then you continue to defend that indefensible position.

Rumpole said...

MindMechanic,

I hope you don’t mind if interject some of my own perspective into this discussion. It may seem wildly off base, but it does seem relevant to me.

In passing I have mentioned that two of my four children are Down Syndrome. The “Tin Man” (he loves the Wizard of Oz, that is as much explanation of the nick-name your going to get) turned twelve about six months ago.

Our local Bishop has been very understanding and very accommodating when we discussed the priesthood. The Tin Man passes the sacrament and does very well. Without divulging details, he did have some struggles initially, but we worked through them and he is quite functional.

We have friends that have a priest-aged son with Down Syndrome. They have not been as fortunate. They petitioned their local Bishop to have their son ordained a priest. The bishop turned them down. He did not turn the request down based upon worthiness; he turned it down based upon the boy’s “perceived” capacity. His comment to the broken-hearted parents was that the boy had progressed as far as he could in this mortal realm.

Is this “bigotry” any different than denying the priesthood based upon race?

The parents petitioned directly to the First Presidency. The case was handled similarly to a legal appeal; the First Presidency responded through “channels” and would not reverse the decision. They offered their suggestions, then left the decision to the Bishop.

This local Bishop has continued in his course; he will not allow the boy to be ordained a priest; the ordination has been declined not because the boy is not worthy, but because the boy is Down Syndrome.

I pose the question in all sincerity: Who is really damning this boy's mortal progression?

We have other friends with boys having the same disability that regularly bless the sacrament. Are they more "capable?"

I learned long ago to separate the “church” from the “gospel.” Leaders are human, leaders are fallible. Sometimes time is the only resolve.

The Tin Man had a baseball game yesterday. I coach his team to guarantee that he will get the opportunities that he deserves. We have met with some resistance while we play him in the league, but I don’t care. I know what he is capable of, and most importantly, he understands baseball and he likes it.

The game yesterday was the second of the season. The Tin Man got hit by a pitch in the first game, and I was worried about how he would bounce back. He was mad when I explained to him that he got to go to first base. He wanted to have another chance to hit!

It all came together for him yesterday. He hit the ball, and he made it safely to first. He even knocked in his first RBI.

There are those who think he ought not to play. They think it is beyond his “capacity.” I know it will happen, but after his play yesterday we should never be questioned again about his participation.

To their great credit, the questions of the Tin Man’s “capacity” have never come from league officials. I only wish that all church leaders had that same insight.

MindMechanic said...

Rumpole...

I appreciate your comments. I dont want to sound like a broken record...I too have had several disagreements with local clergy...even stake presidents. God bless America...that is OK. God bless the LDS church...it is OK there as well.

We have very close friends who experienced a similar situation to what you and your son went through. Their son is afflicted with fetal alcohol syndrome and never fully developed. In many ways he demonstrates characteristics similar to Angel Mans Syndrome, in some ways, downs syndrome, and overall...I dont know that he can be completely accurately diagnosed. But this young mans heart is very sincere and while he may not have complete control of his faculties, he has always known what he wanted more than anything else and could not wait to become 12 and be ordained. His obstacle...the same bishop that declared my son unfit to bless the sacrament because he wore his hair long. That bishop didnt care that my son was an Eagle Scout and wore his hair long because it fit in well at a certain scout camp he worked at. He also didnt consider the fact that of all the eligible young men in the ward..ALL the eligible young men, there were only two that were there every week...administering to the shut ins, collecting fast offerings, there every Wednesday and Sunday...but deemed unworthy nontheless because his hair was long.

Same Bishop. Potentially devastating results.

Fallible.

BTW...just like me. I too am a member of the church. I too hold the Melchezidek preisthood. And I too am OH so fallible.

I think there is a difference when talking about fallible local leaders and generations of prophets and policy.

That is strictly my opinion.

BTW...I think there is a special place in the eternities for people like your son. And the people that love them.

Lysis said...

Rumpole and Mindmechanic;

I am deeply impressed with the depth of your, “real world” experience. I too wore long hair, and I allow (even encourage) my camp staff members to do the same. I am reminded that the Spartans taught that long hair made a handsome man more beautiful and an ugly one, more fierce. Win win!

I remember once, my bishop preaching a sermon that he would never allow his daughter to date anyone with long hair or who wore wire rimed glasses. Years went over and I found myself once again attending that ward. The bishop’s hair was no longer, it was none existent, but he himself was wearing wire rimed glasses.

I had a young friend whose bishop refused to allow him to bless the sacrament because of the length of his hair – he left the church. What a loss to the church and my friend. What does the song say? “If there still should be offences, whoa to them by whom they come!” In a world full of real evils we need to get past the fades of the moment and one to loving God and neighbor.

Dan Simpson said...

Ah, the fallability of man. Its a well documented fact.

Grooming. There is probably not a subject LESS important to your eternal salvation. Obedience, even when one does not understand why, even when it may seem unimportant. Therein lies a lesson that is one well learned.

One of the problems that I see, and of course it should go without saying that this is my opinion, with fault finding of one's leaders is that it is easy for it to travel from mistakes that seem obviously wrong (i.e. the boy kept from the priesthood), to those that are marginal or unimportant seeming (the length of one's hair) to those things that have eternal consequences (people shrugging off the counsel of the prophets as unimportant, or out of touch).

I think as one goes through different tenets of the gospel it is easy to find rules we are asked to live by that are not eternal principles. Alcohol consumption springs to mind almost at once for me. What then, is the purpose for such rules. Sometimes, your guess is as good as mine.

Why is it that missionaries are asked to conform to certain hairstyles, completely no facial hair, and strict dress standards? I am sure we could come up with a list of obvious or not so obvious reasons that such rules are in place. The most important reason? Because they are asked to.

Is the length of a priests hair an important enough line in the sand to refuse him the opportunity to serve? Not in my opinion. However, as the President of the Priest's Quorum does the Bishop have the authority to ask his Quorum to dress and groom themselves in a certain way while participating and officiating in sacred rites and rituals? I believe so.

Maybe its a sacrafice, maybe it is just a lesson in obedience. Maybe it is because the prophets and Apostles have made the exact same requests of the young men of the church. Again, is it important enough to keep a young man from the sacrament table? I don't think so, but what an opportunity to learn the idea of obedience to one's priesthood leaders.

It may interest some that I recently moved from that same ward (different boundaries from the time MM is referring to). Same bishop, however, that 12 year old boy now passes the sacrament every week. And many of the priests bless with long shaggy, unkempt hair. The first brings a smile to my face every time I see it. The care that that young man takes to respect his responsibilities is a lesson for all. The second, I can honestly say, bothers me a great deal. I was in the Young Men's organization for the last 18 months there. The young men are good, but lack an understanding of the importance of many things. They have good parents, but I sometimes wonder why there is not a greater feeling of immediacy about their progress, or mission preparation.

I have never been enamoured of long hair the way Lysis has. I don't particularly dislike it, and some people even looked quite good at camp with it. But for me, I see a difference between when one is leading a group of rapscallions through the backwoods of yellowstone, and when one is sitting at the sacrament table, officiating in a sacred rite of the church. It is my opinion, but I always asked the young men, blessing or passing, to take a care for their grooming, and there is no better standard for that, in my opinion, than to groom yourself like a missionary.

MindMechanic said...

Dan...

I understand your points. They were the talking points I used when I talked with my son about the possible logic of the bishop. The problem isnt that he expressed a universal standard for the Aaronic priesthood, it is that he took my son aside without consultation with his Young Mens presidency and declared him unworthy. A world of difference.

The worst part is that my son had already planned on cutting his hair. He was tired of it already. And he did a short time later. But he stil didnt bless and pass the sacrament. He was never deemed worthy. I dont know that it would have mattered.

I am convinced that the funky reorg that the stake underwent was divinely inspired specifically for my family.

And this is just a SMALL thing. It has turned out to be an opportunity to have several discussions with my son. We can allow it to be a positive.

Dan Simpson said...

And therin lies the blessings of bad leadership.

They can be learning experiences. I have struggled a bit over the last couple years with feelings about leaders, had a young men's president that thought he was somehow my boss, and if I didn't agree with everything he did, I was undermining him. It became ridiculous until the whole organization was changed (but I was left in as varsity coach).

There have been many times when there are things that have not been done right, mostly (in my opinion) because of a lack of knowledge of HOW the church works (there are actual rules of how leadership works in the church) and an lack of willingness to learn or be taught.

Despite that, I believe that Bishop to be a truly good man. I have seen ample evidence of that fact. I remember during my youth having a Bishop that was 'unique' actually, growing up in the 8th ward, I had more than one. But, I remember my parents telling us that sometimes people are called because of the blessing they will be on those the serve. And sometimes people are called because of the growth that THEY will receive from such a calling.

The problems in that ward are multitudinous. Some choose to lay the blame on the Stake presidency for changing the boundaries. Some choose to blame the Bishopric. Some choose to point to the people from the other side of the 'tracks' and point to their flaws. While the last two actually do have problems associated with them, the biggest problem is that no one is willing to take personal responsibility.

No one looks at this change and asks if they are doing their best to fulfill their callings. No one seems to notice that the fact that everyone is so easilty offended is THEIR fault, not the bishops. No one is willing to step up and quit being so freaking immature.

I was talking with a former bishop of mine who is currently the young men's president in that ward. He was sorry my wife and I had moved, but was excited for us to be gone. I told him that one thing is certain, because the church is so fluid (a bishop isn't the bishop forever, everyone's callings change), that ward will also change, but it won't be until people quit being idiots.

MindMechanic said...

The dynamics of the ward dont do much for it either. It has long been known as the "newlywed or nearly dead" ward. Many are in transit and wont be there long so dont want to engage, many have done their time and were "retired" from callings, and many were left to carry the load. Overworked and underpaid indeed.

I cant bring myself to dislike the bishop there. I know in his heart he means well. Maybe it is just the execution. I went a year and a half as the Sunday School president with no counselors called and only two youth teachers. Names were submitted but just werent right. There was always something. When I was finally released the new SSP was comprised entirely of names that had been submitted but turned down. So...go figure.

Still...I know he is a good man. I have often thought his purpose for being the Bishop in that ward was to comfort the elderly, especially at the rate of passing that we had for a while there. And considering the ward makeup it cant be an easy job.

Lysis said...

Right and wrong have nothing to do with the personalities of bishops or wards. Obedience in religion is not a lesson to be learned by blind acceptance or acquiescence to authority. It is not a matter of obeying someone just because they hold a position of authority; one keeps the commandments of God because they are just, reasonable, and necessary. Righteousness, religious obedience, is a matter of doing what is right.

Hair length has nothing to do with right and wrong. For a person in a position of authority to use that authority to force their personal taste on others by claiming Priesthood power, is in direct contradiction to the scripture; the word of God.

There is no tenant of Mormonism more abhorrent than the claim that if you obey an evil command of a priesthood leader you will not be held responsible for your actions but rather the “leader” will. It is this sort of acquiescence to tyranny that led to Mountain Meadows, to genocide in the Old Testament and bigotry in the Latter Days.

When religious leaders step beyond their bounds, out of their jurisdiction, and begin to command things which are unrelated to religion they should be challenged by righteous men and women.

Rumpole said...

Lysis and MindMechanic,

I apologize for the late hour. The spring evenings are filled with baseball in my house. My comment might not be very clear at this hour, but I’ll give it whirl.

I wish to attempt to tie Lysis’ comments and some of my own to earlier comments from the MindMechanic. Unless I misunderstand, MindMechanic acknowledges the “bigotry” of “local leaders” in deny opportunity to those with developmental disabilities.

I might offer that that “bigotry” has been re-enforced by church officials who refuse to counter a local bishop’s decision. According to the parents of the boy, the letter implied that they were righteous in their desire to see their son bless the sacrament; the letter also implied that church authorities would be reticent to change any decision made by a local authority.

I recognize my reach here in relating Lysis’ comment about the obedient not being punished while leaders giving unrighteous commands will be, but I think it similarly applies here.

There is a window of time for that boy (even a boy with Down Syndrome) to be part of something with his peers while he is sixteen. When that window closes, nothing (short of the atonement) can reopen it.

Herein lies the dilemma; in the attempt to be faithful members, the boy’s parents are forced to sit quietly, watch the window close, and acquiesce to a decision that could be changed with one phone call. It is not a local problem. When there is injustice, where do we turn?

In its magnificence, the Atonement has the ability to restore that which has been lost. But does not the application of that same atonement require us to do all we can now to make things right now?

Dan Simpson said...

I really think that you need to change the title on this blog.

All of your postings make it fairly clear that it isn't 'reason and faith' that you feel we should live by. But reason and proof.

"evil commands" "personal preferences" "things unrelated to religion".

It is very easy to dismiss dictates or rules, or whatever you would like to call them by labeling them in this way.

Reason being the foundation for all action is a construct of your own. And that is fine, you are free to decide how you are going to base the decisions in your life. But, you can't pretend that it is the basis of religion, let alone the church to which we belong.

Of course, that opinion might be twisted by others to try to show why reason must be used, if we don't use reason then things like Mountain Meadows will happen, etc..

I wish RFB were here, as he is the one who got the degree and understands the concept, but he once explained to me how anyone who had studied logic far enough realizes that logic itself proves that you cannot rely on logic implicitly. Reason is flawed. Reason is limited, because we are limited.

Reason is necessary, absolutely. However, whenever someone lives with the idea that everything must be explainable or that they must understand everything, or it is simply not true, I think they become just as deluded as those who refuse to listen to reason.

I suppose following Lysis' train of thought, God was merely expressing a personal preference when he commanded Moses to remove his shoes when he came upon holy ground. Moses should have fought against such an evil command unrelated to religion.

Some things are asked of us, and completely explained, some are not. With some of those unexplained ones, it is easy to see the reason, with others, there are almost as many ideas of why as there are people. It isn't a bad thing to look for a reason, but to demand a reason before one acts, in my opinion, is the height of arrogance. Not to ask for conformation, that should always be done, but to demand a reason.

I am absolutely positive that Lysis would be the first to step up and denounce a mormon missionary who went to a foreign country and through his actions disrespected the religion or culture of the area (case in point the missionaries who took their pictures sitting on a Buddha statue, don't remember the country, but I think they were thrown in jail).

He seems to understand the need for respect when it comes to other religions, but should a leader in this church lay down rules for the respectful observance of our own rites, it is akin to the mountain meadows massacre? And is so unrelated to religion that 'righteous' men and women should stand up against it?

Not only do your comments seem to deride the idea of faith at almost every turn, sometimes they say goodbye to reason as well.

Lysis said...

Rumpole;

It must indeed be frustrating to see some you love caught up in an ego war betweena self-righteous bigot and an organization reticent to make reasoned distinctions least they challenge their member’s faith in their system of beliefs. In deed, only God can see us through such a “mistake of man”.

Dan;

I am always amazed and dismayed to see those who envision God as some sort of arbitrary lightening bolt chucker; laying down arbitrary rules and daring his adherents to risk his peevish wrath if they refuse to act contrary reason.

I must shake my head in wonder, that someone attempting to bolster the role of religion and the existence of God, would find support in an attack on Reason among the Logical Empiricists and the Existentialists who, not only denied the power of the rational human mind, but scoffed at the existence of God, freedom, justice, morality, and truth; sad in deed when the misbehavior of a Mormon bishop must be justified by the rantings of Friedrich Nietzsche and Ludwig Wittgenstein and Jean-Paul Sartre.

Once more – God does not command us at his pleasure to show his power, he reviles to us the Laws irrevocably decreed in Heaven on which all blessing are predicated. Such irrevocable laws are made mock by those who impose their personal taste on their assigned congregations through unrighteous dominion.

MindMechanic said...

I am always amazed and dismayed to see those who envision God as some sort of arbitrary lightening bolt chucker; laying down arbitrary rules and daring his adherents to risk his peevish wrath if they refuse to act contrary reason.

I can only speak for myself, but I dont see God in the way you describe. However I DO believe that it isnt just likely but PROBABLE that there are many decisions of dictates of God that I personally do not understand. Kicking and stomping and demanding to know why doesnt help...maybe I am just not ready yet.

I am reminded of one day at KKMC SA. We were launching all 12 of our ships in 4 go's and one of the 1st 8 had to ground abort. The call was made...remove the bad part from AC1 and replace it with a part from AC12. Once AC1 was airborne remove a part from AC10 and fix AC12. By that time we should have a part from supply and we can fix AC10.
The individual whose job it was to fix the AC refused to do the job, stating it was stupidity to do the same repair job 3 times in a half an hour. Keep in mind...135 degrees on a blacktop is more like 165 degrees and everyone was a little hot and cranky. The end result was the individual was...persuaded for lack of a better word...and the job got done. At the end of the day there was a perfect mission related reason why things were done the way they were. We just werent privy to that info and there wasnt time (or NEED) to explain and justify the reason.

I have had several occasions in my military career where directives were given without explanation. I assume there are times in other peoples jobs were the leader or director gives 'orders' (for lack of a better word) that their workers may not understand or may not agree with...but are still expected to follow.

Faith is not just an idea. Faith has been declared as the ONLY way to find understanding of Gods plans. Faith LEADS to understanding.

"God does not command us at his pleasure to show his power"

No...but it may feel like it at times because we may not understand everything.

"Such irrevocable laws are made mock by those who impose their personal taste on their assigned congregations through unrighteous dominion."

Agreed...in ANY walk of life.

Anonymous said...

The History Teacher

Trying to protect his students' innocence
he told them the Ice Age was really just
the Chilly Age, a peiod of a million years.

And the Stone Age became the Gravel Age,
named after the long driveways of the time.

The Spanish Inquisition was nothing more
than an outbreak of questions such as
"How far is it from here to Madrid?"
"What do you call the matador's hat?"

The War of the Roses took place in a garden,
and the Enola Gay dropped one tiny atom on Japan.

The children would leave his classroom
for the playground to torment the weak
and the smart,
mussing up their hair and breaking their glasses.

while he gathered up his notes and walked home
past flower beds and white picket fences,
wondering if they would believe that sodiers in the Boer War told long, rambling stories
designed to make the enemy nod off.

Billy Collins
U.S. Poet Laurete(2001-2003)

As a former high school teacher Collins sure had a sense of the self serving bullshit that some call teaching history.

Lysis said...

Anonymous;

I couldn’t agree with you more. There are so many “History teachers”, at the College as well as high school level, who - if not “self serving” - are at least driven by the relativist agenda they bought into in the days of their “development”.

I have been through more History classes than my students have “had hot dinners”; as the major would have said. I remember some loon attempting to blame the killing fields of Cambodia on the U.S. another – still teaching at my school - claim that, before a Constitutional amendment otherwise, that slavery was just. I have heard History teachers credit the building of the Pyramids to black Africans, and claim that Cleopatra was a sub-Saharan black. If you go back in this web log to last fall, you will find and account, titled Apology”, of a WSU guest lecturer who lied outright to a class full of history teachers, claiming that 650,.000 Iraqis had been killed by the US liberation of that country and misquoting President Bush in a overt attempt to misinform historians. I could present many such specific examples of “sunshine” being pumped by History Teachers. That the New Deal ended the Depression, that Indians were peaceful nature lovers, that Africans had no culpability in the slave trade, that Communism improved the lives of Chinese. Such BS is indeed the driving agenda of many who would misuse “History” to craft the present. Orwell has described the process of morphing the past to control the future in 1984 but one sees it every day in the “liberal institutions” of higher learning in this country. Remember Ward Churchill?

Thank goodness there are many good and honest teachers of History. We labor diligently to present the events of the past in context and allow those seeking to find the truth the opportunity to discover it. Poets might complain and snipe, but one who really values the integrity of the teaching of History is obligated to do more than craft free verse fantasies.

Those who would arm the present against the evils of misinformation must provide the facts of the past to their pupils and engender the ability of their students to reason toward truth. This is the rewarding process that makes teaching worth wile to me.

MindMechanic said...

Cal Harris was my AP History teacher. He didnt just encourage us to examine all sides, he forced us to by assigning debate and defense of opposing viewpoints. He taught me to understand history, to appreciate history, to learn from history. most importantly, to not FEAR history.

We arent all so lucky. My kids have had some good, but also some very slanted and biased 'hystery' teachers.

Anonymous said...

"O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish."

Lysis said...

Anonymous;

Excellent scriptural quote! It fits perfectly into our string; as it describes - not only the Orwellian forces of the relativist left who would use misinformation about the past and present to subvert the truth and control the present - but applies perfectly to leaders of local congregations who supplant scripture and reason with their own tastes and prejudices. Thanks for your contribution!

Lysis said...

Dan;

You say to me:

“I really think that you need to change the title on this blog.

All of your postings make it fairly clear that it isn't 'reason and faith' that you feel we should live by. But reason and proof.”

Dan, you have already changed the title of this web log (in your mind), you read “reason AND faith” but you think “reason OR faith”.

Faith is not doing what one is told without thought. Having studied it out in ones heart and mind, one then acts as he sees right. By the light of Christ, which is the mind of Divine Jupiter, mans ability to reason, we can tell what is right or wrong, and then we act accordingly, by faith. You see Dan, in a world were absolute truth exists but cannot be know one must act by reason AND faith.

Your way abandons reason, not in favor of faith, but in blind obedience predicated on the fear spawned by admitted ignorance.

truth to power said...

I don't believe in "blind obedience". That is, I don't believe that such a thing actually exists. When you have learned to trust a particular leader and his source of direction, you obey him even when you disagree or don't understand. This is anything but blind. And it works even when the leader makes mistakes, which they all do.

What in the world is the purpose of a leader, if everyone decides to follow only those decisions they understand and agree with? Sounds like it would make for a pretty chaotic Scout camp, for example.

Lysis said...

Truth to Power;

At the scout camp I work at the leader has no trouble explaining to patrons and employees alike the reason behind all of his instructions. And believe me, it he ever tries to make unreasonable demands on either customers or workers, he hears about it!

I think there is such a thing as blind obedience. I see it in the actions of terrorists who kill and murder innocent people because they have been told to hate, I see it in the daily suicide murder bombing that kill children and other people with no cause other than to intimidate and terrify. Such evil is not reasonable so the only excuse I can give humans for such behavior is to assume they act blindly. If the positions of the enemy could stand the “heat” or reason they would have free speech, open debate, and democracy in the “realm” of Islam.

Anonymous said...

Its nice that your staff can communicate with 'god'. Sure is helpful knowing firsthand his intent, rather than leaving them to determine intent based solely on directives.

Dan Simpson said...

"At the scout camp I work at the leader has no trouble explaining to patrons and employees alike the reason behind all of his instructions. And believe me, it he ever tries to make unreasonable demands on either customers or workers, he hears about it!"

That gave me a good chuckle.

Anonymous said...

I know for a fact that people at Lysis' scout camp have followed his directions not understanding his reasoning because they trust him. Furthermore, there are those that have done so even while disagreeing with him because they honor him. Is this a bad thing? Are these weak people who deserve what seems to have become a pejorative on this blog, the title of acting with blind faith?

Anonymous said...

"And believe me, it he ever tries to make unreasonable demands on either customers or workers, he hears about it!"

presumably from Mrs god

Lysis said...

To Dan and the Anonymous;

I am willing to accept any example of an unreasonable demand placed on staff or patrons at any camp I directed. Please list them here at the Agora; I challenge either of you to do so. Chuckle all you want but please give examples of times where you were forced to unreasonable acts or not given an opportunity to question them.

If you cannot produce these things, it is disingenuous of either of you to make such claims and expect those or us reading here at the Agora to accept you slights on faith.

Furthermore – it is the lowest form of relativist argument to counter an example of “wrong doing” by pointing at the accuser and squealing –“you do it to”. If I was an unjust boss does that give your bishop excuse to practice unrighteous dominion?

When you read your Marx you were supposed to learn to avoid chop-logic from observing his bad example, not ape it.

Anonymous said...

"I know for a fact that people at Lysis' scout camp have followed his directions not understanding his reasoning because they trust him. Furthermore, there are those that have done so even while disagreeing with him because they honor him. Is this a bad thing? Are these weak people who deserve what seems to have become a pejorative on this blog, the title of acting with blind faith?"

Read it again Lysis and then calm down. I didn't accuse you of making unreasonable demands. I said that some have followed your commands without understanding your reasoning. There is a BIG difference. So, the rest of your accusations really are pointless as they don't apply to what I actually said.

MindMechanic said...

For the record...I only know of two that have brought up Bishop's transgressions...me one and Rumpole the other...and I havent clue one on the operations at Camp loll...

And for that matter...I cited myself as a transgressor of military unrighteous dominion.

AND I dont compare my military experiences with what I view as the fallible policies of local clergy.

Just to be crystal clear...

MindMechanic said...

Anon...

I read your comments an an example of subordinates following orders out of trust, not blind obedience.

Interesting...we had a similar conversation in my home recently regarding following the counsel of parents even if it isnt universally agreed that it is the right thing. I think that can be done out of love, trust, and respect and not angry submission.

Anonymous said...

MM,

Thanks. I was simply asking a question about where the line gets drawn about leadership trust faith etc.

Though I meant no slight at all to Lysis, I think he has been (or has at least perceived himself to be) judged harshly enough times by the masses that he is a little too quick to assume he is being attacked.

Dan Simpson said...

Well, Lysis. You through out enough accusations without facts, I figure I wouold too.

"sad in deed when the misbehavior of a Mormon bishop must be justified"

I hadn't justified any misbehavior.

"Faith is not doing what one is told without thought"

Point to one instance where I said it was.

"Your way abandons reason, not in favor of faith, but in blind obedience predicated on the fear spawned by admitted ignorance."

Give one example.

So, please, don't get all huffy because I thought your comment funny. I didn't make claims about it, just said it made me laugh. You made claims with no backing. That being said, I will back up my guffaw.

Dan Simpson said...

I think it unreasonable for a leader to put a person in charge of the rock, to get them trained specifically to know how to run the rock, and then to undermine that authority on multiple occasions.

Occasion one. Unruly kids being kicked off the rock, scoutmaster complains to camp leader. Camp leader takes boys back to rock and tells person in charge that they must not only be allowed to climb, but get put in the front of the line to appease the scoutmaster.

Occasion two. When the individual in charge of the rock sees an incoming storm and out of safety closes the rock before the storm can hit. Then gets publicly reprimanded as lazy for not doing his job.

Though I asked it was never explained to me why the job I was hired for was given to a person who had never worked at camp before, while I had worked there for three years.

I found it completely unreasonable that a policy that held that whoever got to the motor boat first after the scouts left was able to ride back to camp in the boat, and the rest rode in the van. But, after a commisioner lost his cool and screamed at me for being in the boat, and his mommy screamed at me after we got home because he wanted to pout and not eat lunch with us, you decided that not only would this rule be changed so that ONLY commisioners could ride in the boat, but made a point of publicly telling me that this was the rule.

This was especially annoying seeing as this was one of the two guys who got the job that I was hired for, because his mommy worked with you.

Here's the bottom line though. Without question you are the absolute best person I have ever even heard of running a scout camp. I have been to national camp school. I have heard of and from others. You are the ONLY person I would work for. And I lament the fact that I had to stop. It still makes me sad to visit to this day because I can't be a part of that wonderful program.

Why did I keep coming back, you might ask, it looks like I think you completely unreasonable.

No. I trusted you. I respected you. I believed that you knew the best way to make that camp, and my experience wonderful. I still do.

But, that didn't make you infallible. You are a dictator at camp. A benevolent dictator. Its a good thing, camp shouldn't be run with a discussion format making sure everyone agrees.

I often obeyed not understanding or knowing the reason. After trusting and acting, I was usually taught a valuable lesson. I grew through those experiences.

My point is. Just because I, or someone else, didn't understand your reasons for doing some things, didn't mean they weren't right.

And, just because someone doesn't understand the reasons God, or the Prophets or Apostles ask us to do certain things, doesn't mean they aren't right either.

I don't think we have to know and understand everything before we act in obedience and faith.

Lysis said...

Dan;

You say:

“Occasion one. Unruly kids being kicked off the rock, scoutmaster complains to camp leader. Camp leader takes boys back to rock and tells person in charge that they must not only be allowed to climb, but get put in the front of the line to appease the scoutmaster.”

Consider this:

Perhaps the “reasonable” way to deal with unruly kids on the rock, once they bring their scout master, to the office, would be for the Camp Director to go to the rock and find out what went wrong and then fix it. If kids can behave after being disciplined and still get the program they paid for – it seems to be the best possible solution to a difficult problem.

You say:

“Occasion two. When the individual in charge of the rock sees an incoming storm and out of safety closes the rock before the storm can hit. Then gets publicly reprimanded as lazy for not doing his job.”

Consider this:

What the individual in charge of the rock should have done was close the rock until the storm passed, entertaining the climbers until they either went back to camp or until the rock could be re-opened. If the errant “individual” was reprimanded in public – I would agree with you, that this was an unreasonable act on my part. Does such a failure on my part justify a bishop’s denial opportunity of a boy to magnify his priesthood calling or the withholding of priesthood power from generations of worthy men because of racist bigotry?

You say:

“Though I asked it was never explained to me why the job I was hired for was given to a person who had never worked at camp before, while I had worked there for three years.”

Consider this:

You have mentioned this incident before – I have no idea what you are talking about. I need my memory refreshed, did you ever ask for and explanation; a justification? What did I say?


You say:

“I found it completely unreasonable that a policy that held that whoever got to the motor boat first after the scouts left was able to ride back to camp in the boat, and the rest rode in the van. But, after a commisioners lost his cool and screamed at me for being in the boat, and his mommy screamed at me after we got home because he wanted to pout and not eat lunch with us, you decided that not only would this rule be changed so that ONLY commisioners could ride in the boat, but made a point of publicly telling me that this was the rule.”

Consider this:

It seems reasonable to me that staff members who cannot share the motorboat be denied the opportunity to ride. I again do not remember this particular incident – but why any staff members were riding with the commissioner rather than hiking back to camp with their troops seems to be the “reasonable” question here.

You say:

“This was especially annoying seeing as this was one of the two guys who got the job that I was hired for, because his mommy worked with you.”

A certain mom who worked for me did indeed drive me to many unreasonable acts – the power that an exceptionally excellent cook holds over a Camp Director is immense, if not unreasonable. I would suggest to you that if you had asked for a logical explanation I would have at least attempted to give it to you. But even if I could or would not – this does not justify the blind obedience of the “priesthood brethren” at Cedar City to the evil commands of Stake President Hate and Bishop Lee. I would argue that if you had quit over this bit of “favoritism” on my part, you would have had every right to do so.

I appreciate your kind words about my directing, – and will try all the harder to be a better Camp Director to those to whom I now dictate. I happily extend a perpetual invitation to you to visit, along with your family, any time.

I am grateful for you demonstrated loyalty – even in the face of my demonstrated flaws – but I still hope that, had I actually asked you or any staff member to do something which reason, logic, wisdom, or knowledge judged wrong, that – then as now – you would refuse to do so, despite your respect and affection for me.

In this regard I respectfully you disagree with you. I am in general supportive of the Prophets and Apostles, and surely confidently obedient to God – but if any of these were to command me to do something which reason told me was wrong I would disobey. I will fork over 10% of my income to the church, I will attend services in a ward which meets at the most inconvenient of times, I will show up to sweep behind the toilets when it is perfectly within the financial ability of the church to hire a custodian – probably someone who needs a job. But I would never slaughter children either in the Moab of the Middle East or in Cedar City Utah. Nor would I attempt to butcher my son on an alter stone to any God who made such an unreasonable request. I will never condone denying a boy the opportunity to officiate in the sacrament because his hair is to long or his chromosomes are different. I will never condone racism as a reason for withholding the saving ordinances of the temple.

Once again – it is not the man or God making the “command” but what is being commanded that requires reasoned consideration. This is God’s admonition – not mine.

Lysis said...

Dan;

Here are your words, some of them, that led to the phrases you take from my posts:

I said:

1."sad in deed when the misbehavior of a Mormon bishop must be justified"

Because you said:

“Is the length of a priests hair an important enough line in the sand to refuse him the opportunity to serve? Not in my opinion. However, as the President of the Priest's Quorum does the Bishop have the authority to ask his Quorum to dress and groom themselves in a certain way while participating and officiating in sacred rites and rituals? I believe so.”

I said:

2. "Faith is not doing what one is told without thought"

Because you said:

“Obedience, even when one does not understand why, even when it may seem unimportant. Therein lies a lesson that is one well learned.”

I said:

3. "Your way abandons reason, not in favor of faith, but in blind obedience predicated on the fear spawned by admitted ignorance."

Because you said:

“I wish RFB were here, as he is the one who got the degree and understands the concept, but he once explained to me how anyone who had studied logic far enough realizes that logic itself proves that you cannot rely on logic implicitly. Reason is flawed. Reason is limited, because we are limited.”

and

“Some things are asked of us, and completely explained, some are not. With some of those unexplained ones, it is easy to see the reason, with others, there are almost as many ideas of why as there are people. It isn't a bad thing to look for a reason, but to demand a reason before one acts, in my opinion, is the height of arrogance.”

Hence you admit that there are things “we cannot know” – ignorance – and therefore must obey authority and take off our shoes or suffer God’s wrath.

adelaide said...

Lysis:
Your original post reminded me of a book I am currently reading "As a Man Thinketh" by James Allen. I have been reading the second volume, that is chapters from his other books as well as the original. If you have not already read it I highly recommend you do. It speaks much of "absolute truths".

Dan Simpson said...

"You have mentioned this incident before – I have no idea what you are talking about. I need my memory refreshed, did you ever ask for and explanation; a justification? What did I say?"

I have been hired by you as a commisioner, but never worked as one. We were to have, according to you, a sort of rotating commissioner, archery director, etc. rotation the year before my mission. When we got to camp, during staff week, you said, nope, we're just going to have J.R. Matt and Mike Campbell as the commissioners. Two of which had never worked with scouts before. It bothered me, I asked, you said something about continuity, I didn't press it. But, it definitely bothered me that you would give the job to two guys with no experience, who were both younger than me.

"but why any staff members were riding with the commissioner rather than hiking back to camp with their troops seems to be the “reasonable” question here."

Probably because the only way to be with the troop at this point would be swimming across the channel. They had just left, we were on our own on a Saturday afternoon.

It is not my argument that your unreasonable acts excuse anyone elses. In fact, it wasn't me who brought the whole thing up. You made a claim that made me laugh (and I wasn't the only one, just the only one who posted). You seemed to get peeved at my amusement and demanded proof.

It would be a logical fallacy to claim that one unreasonable act excuses another, that was never my argument.

I always appreciate your invites to visit. It is always a bitter sweet time. I hope to be able to visit this summer. Time will tell.