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Mothers Who Know and Others Who Don’t Have a Clue

I really don’t want to do this. It’s just not that interesting to me. And I’m so late to the party that the boat embarked, sailed the world, returned victorious, and docked at harbor all while I was trying to decide what to pack.

Still, as the uproar continues, I’ll add my two cents about all the clamoring against President Julie Beck’s General Conference talk. There are some devout and thinking LDS women who disagree with the negative spin. I haven’t been up on reading the Bloggernacle as of late, so I can only hope I’m not alone in the wilderness. But I suspect I am not.

When I heard the talk, I knew straightway that there would be a hue and a cry from some predictable venues. But the second thought was, “The wimps. They would never have survived To Mothers In Zion.”

I’m just thrilled that we are getting real direction! I’ve about had it up to my eyeballs with the you-are-so-wondrous-and-amazing-no-pressure-no-guilt-no-problem-you-are-saved-hallelujah talks, that having a get-up-off-your-duffs-and-do-something was a blessed relief.

Truthfully, however, much of the anti-Beck sentiment isn’t even logical. I’m not exactly sure how to address the dozens of comments that argue against things that Beck never said. Suffice it to say, there’s a whole heck of a lot of beating down straw (wo)men going on.

Rather than point the wagging finger at particular people, I’ll just quote some of the objections anonymously and respond. There is much repetition, so I’ll try not to include too many, almost identical complaints. But bear with me. Trust me, I won’t enjoy writing this any more than you’ll enjoy reading it.

No mention of fathers vital roles

This is what we might call “a rock and a hard place.” Had Beck spent much time in a talk to/about mothers chatting about fathers, you can bet that some would have complained about the men encroaching upon their domain. So, she sticks to talking about mothers and she’s still in trouble. Go figure.

In For the Strength of Youth, the authors didn’t spend any time discussing senior missions either, but that doesn’t suggest they aren’t significant in the grand scope of the church or the gospel.

Do we really need to harp about the speaker staying on topic? Sometimes I kind of enjoy a talk that is just for me!

…the unacknowledged assumption that all women can be mothers/homemakers

Perhaps it’s not acknowledged because it wasn’t assumed at all. Not only have these exceptions been acknowledged again and again and again in authoritative speeches, but Sister Beck (again) acknowledged them explicitly in this talk.

Mothers who know desire to bear children…Faithful daughters of God desire children…Some women are not given the responsibility of bearing children in mortality…Women who desire and work toward that blessing in this life are promised they will receive it for all eternity, and eternity is much, much longer than mortality.

Seriously, how much more clear must she be?

Today, I will take a stand. I will not back down. I hereby declare that:

  • It is OK for our leaders to speak about motherhood even though not every member will be a mother.
  • It is OK for our leaders to speak about fatherhood even though not every member will be a father.
  • It is OK for our leaders to speak about marriage even though not every member will have the opportunity to marry.
  • It is OK for our leaders to speak about temple marriage even though not every member will marry in the temple.
  • It is OK for our leaders to speak about paying tithing even though not every member will be a full tithe payer.
  • It is OK for our leaders to speak about youth programs even though not every member was able to participate in youth programs.
  • It is OK for our leaders to speak about Primary even though not every member attended Primary.

I further declare that our leaders can appropriately:

  • Speak about mothers without speaking about fathers. (And vice versa.)
  • Speak about bishops without speaking about Relief Society presidents. (And vice versa.)
  • Speak about young women without speaking about young men. (And vice versa.)
  • Speak about homemaking without speaking about math and science. (And vice versa.)
  • Speak about cleanliness without speaking about toilet paper roll directional issues. (And vice versa.)

She equated housekeeping with nurturing ?

No, she said, “Another word for nurturing is homemaking.” Housekeeping is most reasonably a subset of homemaking. So, in her words, housekeeping would be part of nurturing.

…the conflating of homemaking and housecleaning…

In reality, the talk says, “Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home.” [Emphasis added.]

She did not say, “Homemaking is only cooking, washing clothes…”

Do intelligent adults really dispute the fact that homemaking (the creation and management of a home as a pleasant place in which to live) actually does include at least a handful of domestic duties?

I have to believe that much of this supposed “conflating” has been presented this way simply to intentionally create a controversy. Those making these claims appear to be articulate, educated people who do know the difference between “includes” and “is.” Or maybe they are too closely aligned with Bill Clinton to define such tricky verbiage as “is.”

There is no way that I can believe that keeping our homes as tidy as the temple…or being the best homemakers in the world…are the vital lessons that will bring myself and my family closer to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Let’s take this a piece at a time. Did Sister Beck say we should be “keeping our homes as tidy as the temple”? Not remotely. What she actually said was, “…women should pattern their homes after the Lord’s house.”

True, the fabricated statement is much more likely to get women angry and up-in-arms and much more likely to create rafts of web traffic and a flurry of posting than the truth. But does that excuse the misrepresentation?

Now that you know the truth, what, exactly, is so horrible about the idea of using the Lord’s house as a pattern for our own? What sinister evil lurks behind those, apparently, dirty words?

In the second part of the assertion we find some accuracy. Sister Beck did say, “Latter-day Saint women should be the best homemakers in the world.” But the author inflates this recommendation to be “the gospel lesson.” I’m at a sincere loss trying to discover where Beck claimed that “keeping our homes as tidy as they temple and being the best homemakers in the world is the gospel lesson to bring salvation.”

Was the author on a Pepsi binge when she watched conference? Tsk, tsk.

So let’s bring this back, again, to the actual statement made. (I know it’s hard hang with me for a minute.) Beck apparently does believe that cleanliness is part of godliness. (My, that sounds vaguely familiar ?) She does seem to indicate that a faithful disciple of Christ shouldn’t live in filth and squalor. So, here’s my question. If you can’t believe that being a great homemaker actually could bring you and your family closer to God, is it possible that you are missing something? Or is the only plausible scenario that Sister Beck is off her rocker?

President Beck’s talk yesterday glorifying the traditional role of the woman as a homemaker seems almost incongruent with the recent talks/articles in which male leaders encourage women to get all the education they can and to prepare to be self-sufficient.

I could take issue with inflated phrases like “glorifying the traditional role…” but I won’t bother. Instead, I’ll just point out that this supposed incongruity is nonexistent.

The author would have us believe that the prophet advising women to become educated is somehow incompatible with the idea that we should learn solid homemaking skills, too, unless the prophet specifically lists homemaking skills among those things to be educated about.

Obviously that’s a fallacious position. But I do wonder why the author didn’t make the same claims about other subjects or skill sets. Did the prophet specifically mention math? finance? hygiene? Is she suggesting that any future talks stating that “women who know will bathe fairly regularly” are also “incongruous” with the prophet’s counsel to be educated, since the prophet never mentioned shower time?

The Brethern and the Relief Society Presidency should be united in the message that our young women will be required to take on significant homemaking responsibilities when they get married, and encourage them to include developing homemaking skills along with their formal education to fulfill these important responsibilities.

The implication that they are not united is ludicrous. Does the author really suggest that if she were to ask the prophet, “Is it a good thing for women to have homemaking skills?” that he would say, “No. All other education is good, but not that kind of education!”?

The truth is, every single talk and article do not need to include every single bit of information remotely related to the topic. Wasn’t that taught somewhere in 7th grade English?

Please, let’s insert some common sense in all the feminist flustering.

Fathers as well as mothers, men as well as women, are called to nurture.

“Called” is a term used in the church to indicate a particular assignment from God. In that sense, I think this statement is erroneous. I can’t find any authoritative source where men are “called” to nurture. But I find those where women are called to do so (for example, The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

Yes, men usually do some of the nurturing in their families, but are they “called” to it? I’m not sure.

Again, however, this harkens back to the former complaint. Even assuming men are called to nurture, why does that prohibit us from discussing the fact that women are, as well? In a talk to “Mothers Who Know,” why do we have to discuss what fathers know in the same breath?

Hypersensitivity to gender is likely at the root. But what it really amounts to is, “If the women are being called on the carpet for something, then you darn well better call out the men, too, because they are just as bad as we are — and probably worse!”

Even if the talk is about women. Even if it’s addressed to women. Even if the men were in a cave clanging bones together when the talk was given. You better add that the men need to nurture, too, so that when my husband comes home (from the cave) I can let him know what he needs to do — or it’s not fair.

The odd thing to me is that from a group demanding equality, they seem completely unwilling to also equally bear correction even from those called by God to direct them.

Yes, tell the men to stop surfing for porn, stop being domineering, start being attentive and loving. But don’t you dare tell me to pick up the trash piled in the foyer! How degrading to my personhood!

Individuals and relationships flourish when we are able to share not only our strengths but also our mutual imperfections and needs.

So? Although I’m not convinced that relationships really “flourish” when we “are able to share…our mutual imperfections” what does that have to do with the talk? We can’t discuss progress and ideals because it prohibits us from “flourishing”?

Cleanliness depends upon access to resources and has more to do with priorities than purity of heart.

This comment had me seriously guffawing at my screen. It sounds like something Al Gore would say. Yes, we’re “feeling the pain” of those “less fortunate.” Especially if it means I can leave the moldy dishes in the sink all week long.

Actually, no, the cleanliness Beck spoke of doesn’t depend upon resources. My ancestors lived in dirt floor cabins that were, in fact, “patterned after the Lord’s house.” My husband served a mission in Samoa where he lived on a dirt floor with only a roof overhead. He and many of those who lived similarly also were able to live lives or order and cleanliness. This principle isn’t confined to some 21st century, upper-middle-class, American suburb.

Just this morning I read this passage in T.D. Jake’s Reposition Yourself:

[Jahi] described how she had built the home with dry branches…and cow manure…Her dirt floors were swept clean. I could see the faint rake marks in them…

Jahi’s little shack didn’t look much different from the homes of some of my older relatives for whom slavery was recent memory and who swept and raked their dirt yards like the Kenyan woman did her floors.

To me, these vivid descriptions of those living in what American’s would call severe poverty, still portray exactly what Beck suggested.

No, it doesn’t require resources, but it does require a mild level of priority on order and cleanliness. Yes. And we wouldn’t want that. It’s so restrictive. And besides, my husband should do it.

Housework is something that grownups do and that children learn by example and instruction. Unfortunately, women and girls still perform the bulk of the world’s low-paid and unpaid labor, including housework often at the expense of their own education, leadership, creativity, health, and well-being. Men and boys who share care-work and household responsibilities make it possible for all family members to live happier, more fulfilling lives.

I’m unsure what part of Sister Beck’s actual article (as opposed to the imagined, anti-women one) this is supposed to be addressing. Does the idea that women should have solid homemaking skills preclude men from having them as well? Does her statement, “Working beside children in homemaking tasks creates opportunities to teach and model qualities children should emulate.” really mean only girl children? (Didn’t you see the secret frames of the subservient little slave girl flashing subliminally on the screen while Sister Beck spoke???)

And let me ask a question to all you strong, bold, clear-thinking feminists:

Why is it a bad thing that “women and girls still perform the bulk of the world’s low-paid and unpaid labor, including housework”?

If the work is important, if it contributes positively, if it brings a better quality of life, if it supports the family, if it is necessary who cares what the cash market for it is?

As long as babysitters make less than CEO’s, it will be considered demeaning to this angry crowd to actually take care of their own children.

We reverence the responsibility to choose how, when, and whether we become parents.

Again, what does this have to do with her talk? With the exception of the “whether we become parents.” Is it that you take issue with the idea that God wants us to become parents? If so, then you’d better talk to a few more people than just President Beck.

I suppose when God commanded us to multiply and replenish the earth, he directed that to everyone except those who reverence the choice to ignore it.

…the guilt…

This, I think, is the real problem. It’s the bottom line. It’s the coup de grâce. Sister Beck made us feel guilty; the Gen X equivalent of cruel and unusual punishment.

How dare she speak about something we might actually have room to improve in? What heresy!

{ 107 comments… add one }

  • Oregonian December 30, 2007, 3:35 pm

    I have been offline for a while and come back to this.

    Bravo, Allison! You said it straight up, as usual.

  • agardner December 30, 2007, 5:42 pm

    Alison, you always have a way of articulating what I’m thinking and didn’t have the words for. Very well said.

  • facethemusic December 30, 2007, 5:43 pm

    Woohoo! :swingin:

    Except– I think the prophet HAS mentioned shower time.

    Hee hee– just kidding. That line of yours just cracked me up.

  • jennycherie December 30, 2007, 6:51 pm

    “I ?m just thrilled that we are getting real direction! I ?ve about had it up to my eyeballs with the you-are-so-wondrous-and-amazing-no-pressure-no-guilt-no-problem-you-are-saved-hallelujah talks, that having a get-up-off-your-duffs-and-do-something was a blessed relief.”

    AMEN!!!!! I’ve thought this so many times! I hear the you are so wonderful talks and think, “they are so NOT talking about me!”

  • Alison Moore Smith December 30, 2007, 6:53 pm

    Thanks you all. Me, too, jennycherie!

    I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Traffic indicates we’ve been noticed by some not so sympathetic to President Beck. :pirate:

  • Michelle D December 30, 2007, 8:06 pm

    Michelle D’s husband again: One quick thing – We men have been getting kicked in the teeth for years with “repent” talks in General Priesthood sessions, because many of us (not all) need it in particular areas. Those of us who don’t need a particular call to repentance understand that others do – so we accept the message even if it doesn’t apply to us. I am a FIRM believer in grace and not “guilting” or “shaming” people into obedience, but I also am a firm believer that calls to repentance are necessary when they are necessary.

    As Alison points out, the worst part of the outcry over the talk was how those who were screaming the loudest ALWAYS misrepresented what Pres. Beck actually said. I am an avid parser, since I only want to be judged by what I actually say – and I believe in the Golden Rule. If those who are castigating Pres. Beck for what she DIDN’T say had it happen to them, they would be screaming even louder. That’s the height of hypocrisy.

  • Michelle D December 30, 2007, 9:19 pm

    Well, I am one who listened to Sis Beck and started a guilt trip… but was able to cut it short. (Yeah, go me! That’s unusual.) I realized that what I was hearing was not what she was actually saying. I don’t have a problem with what she said because I have come back to her talk with an open mind and realized why I personally reacted the way I did (which wasn’t strong or negative, just an internal short-lived mini-guilt trip). Those who are so vocally upset remind me of the phrase: “methinks thou dost protest too much.”

    Actually, I think Sis Beck was brilliantly inspired. “Women who know” — what woman wouldn’t want to be a woman who knows?!?! Think of the intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual implications of being a woman who knows! (And Sis Beck covered all of those areas.) I WANT to be a woman who KNOWS!

    As a bit of a threadjack, Alison, you said your husband served his mission in Samoa. American or Western? In what areas did he serve? I was born near Apia, Western Samoa, when my dad taught at the Church school there. I don’t remember much beyond pictures and family stories because I was 1 when my family moved back to the States, but it’s always cool to find someone with connections to Samoa!

  • JustRandi December 30, 2007, 9:39 pm

    Nice job, Alison! I loved the talk when I heard it, and I love it still.
    Why don’t people treat this talk the same as they do any other conference talk? Pray about it. Take the parts you feel inspired to work on, and let everyone else do the same. Every line in every talk is not meant to touch every person’s heart. If it doesn’t apply to you, fine! Move on. The need to pick it apart is what’s unsettling to me.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 30, 2007, 10:11 pm

    Holy cow, Michelle D! Sam served in both American and Western! AND…drum roll… from the time he was eight until he was eleven (1967-1970) his whole family lived there while both his parents (Dean & Donna Smith) taught at the church school there!

    Thanks, “Michelle D’s husband” and Randi. :bigsmile:

  • davidson December 30, 2007, 10:22 pm

    Alison, I have to tell you this.

    I go visiting teaching to a little old lady. She is 93 years old. She can’t see and she can’t hear and she uses a wheelchair. She comes to church every Sunday, and it is quite a process to get her there and get her home again. Every time I see her, I hug her and kiss the top of her head. She smiles this beautiful, sudden, sunrise of a smile, and I’d do just about anything to make her smile like that! If I talk to her with my lips about two inches away from her eyes, she can read my lips.

    One time I asked her, “Donna, if you can’t see and you can’t hear what goes on in Sacrament meeting, why do you make the effort to come?” She told me, “I COME TO SHOW THE LORD WHOSE SIDE I’M ON.” I will never, ever forget that. She is one of my heroes. So are you, Alison. You just keep showing the Lord whose side you’re on! We stand behind you! Or maybe, we stand beside you!
    The Lord needs people like you in the days to come.

    I just don’t get it. Maybe I’m naive. While I listened to Sister Beck’s talk, I felt nothing but gratitude.
    It’s the same kind of gratitude I feel when I get direction from the Holy Ghost, which is almost always gentle CORRECTION (okay, sometimes it’s stern.) It surprised me! it really did! that some felt anger or disappointment or disgust at her words. I am awestruck that anyone, especially a busy General President of a worldwide organization or a divine being like the Holy Ghost, cares enough about me to try to help. Me! Surely they could find better things to do with their time, but they make me (and others like me) a priority. Correction is hard to take when there is no love behind it–BUT THERE IS LOVE BEHIND IT! How can they miss that important part of the equation? They speak because they really, truly care about us, a selfless caring that they offer at great personal sacrifice. I admire their bravery in helping us when we kick and scream and protest their efforts in our childishly “adult” ways. Come on, kids, eat your vegetables.

  • Michelle D December 30, 2007, 10:47 pm

    Alison, I just sent an e-mail to my parents (Ron and Donna Malan, if you want to ask Sam’s parents) to see if they know your in-laws. We left in 1967, so your in-laws might have replaced my parents. How wild would that be?

  • spande2 December 30, 2007, 11:13 pm

    Alison: Fantastic article! Thank you so much. I hope Sis. Beck gets to see it.

  • spande2 December 30, 2007, 11:14 pm

    How do you tell what the “traffic” is doing? Do you have people trying to make comments and you’re not letting them join or what?

  • facethemusic December 31, 2007, 6:22 am

    Come on, kids, eat your vegetables

    Well, that sums it up right there, doesn’t it? :thumbup: LOVE IT!!!

  • east-of-eden December 31, 2007, 9:52 am

    This was really great perspective on this talk and the firestorm it has created. I too was glad for a talk with some very clear direction and very clear counsel. I think homemaking and nurtruing are becoming lost arts in our society, and sadly these are the arts, these kinds of talents and skills (keeping a good home, nurturing and teaching children, basically everything Beck covered) are so very important. I also think too, some of the guilt that people might be feeling is due to Sis Beck’s boldness. It’s not often that anyone is ever “comfortable” when they are reminded of what the Lord wants. I think what it all comes down to is this, and this is a question I have asked myself many times, “Am I willing to sacrifice what society defines as sucess and my own desires, for what the Lord desires and needs from me?” Homemaking is not glamourous, but it does have it’s rewards. We know from countless talks, scripture etc, that the family is the basic and most important unit of the Lord’s plan, we as women need to be supporting that, all the time, no matter what, I think Sis Beck has given great direction on how we can better do this!

  • Alison Moore Smith December 31, 2007, 10:23 am

    No, I just have code that monitors traffic so I can tell where a lot of it comes from. Sometimes you can see it coming from…ahem…less-than-friendly sources. :)

  • Alison Moore Smith December 31, 2007, 10:29 am

    davidson, you make me blush. Thank you and to all of you. eden, I so agree with your sentiments.

    One of the things that so bothers me is the constantly implied idea that the women who ACCEPT this (or any gender-related) counsel MUST be some insipid, saccharine-infested Molly Mormons (no offense to the REAL Molly who writes for us) who flit about in our heels and pearls, picking up socks, mopping up messes, and burping our tupperware with joy and gladness.

    Does it NEVER occur to these people that discipleship has a cost and that sometimes it even means doing things that are NOT exactly our preferences or our inclination? Does it never occur to them that being a strong, thoughtful woman doesn’t REQUIRE us to BLINDLY follow an equality agenda at all times and in all things and in all places?

  • Naismith December 31, 2007, 2:12 pm

    I very much appreciated the analysis, particularly how many of the so-called criticisms did not accurately portray Sister Beck’s actual talk.

    However, I thought the title was inaccurate and unkind, as was questioning whether someone was on “a Pepsi binge” when she wrote the criticism.

    In truth, “these people” are our sisters, and we should show them the love that a disciple of Christ should, and appreciate the pain that was caused.

    I don’t really understand the pain, because I agree that church leaders have the right to call us to repentance for whatever. But if it is painful for them, it is my responsibility as their sister to acknowledge their feelings.

    BTW, “to the mothers in zion” was a North American fireside and not a general conference address to the entire church, so I’m not sure how comparable they are. I think the latter has more weight and certainly a greater audience. This should have been a historic occasion; a woman speaking about motherhood. We should have rejoiced.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 31, 2007, 3:23 pm

    Hi Naismith. Welcome.

    Posted By: NaismithHowever, I thought the title was inaccurate and unkind

    I don’t know if it’s unkind or not. But I do think it’s true. Not only did they utterly misrepresent what Beck said (over and over and over) which in my mind is accurately represented by the phrase “don’t have a clue” but they did so without any reasonable parameters which in my mind is also represented by the phrase “don’t have a clue.”

    Sure, I could have said, “Women Who Know and Women Who Appear Modestly Confused” or “Women Who Know and Some Who Must Have Had a Slight Ear Wax Build Up While Listening to Conference” or “Women Who Know and Some Who Are a Really Great, Lovely, Insightful, Stalwart Bunch But May Have Been Overreacting Just a Teensy Bit Due to Their Pain.” But, frankly, I think that is UNDERreporting what really happened. Not to mention inaccurate. (And I would likely have been accused of being sarcastic.) And I think keeping the tone of the response on the same level as the tone of the complaint is appropriate.

    If they’d had mild, accurate, reasonable objections, I would not have said they don’t “have a clue.” But is there not a point at which nonsensical anger and agenda really does reach a point of cluelessness? I believe it does. And did.

    I have read many things from many of these women. You might be surprised how often I agree with them. They are not inarticulate or stupid. But most do have well-known positions about the church and gender issues. They might even be said to have a bone to pick. Their responses were not only inaccurate, they were wildly unreasonable. No, I don’t think it was an accidental response and, yes, I do think the response was harmful overall.

    as was questioning whether someone was on “a Pepsi binge” when she wrote the criticism.

    I know. I should have said Coke. I apologize. :wink:

    In truth, “these people” are our sisters, and we should show them the love that a disciple of Christ should, and appreciate the pain that was caused

    .

    Do you realize that I could just as well claim that YOUR criticism of MY post is “unkind” and doesn’t recognize MY pain? Why don’t you “appreciate” MY pain?

    I’m not really expecting you to. Just as with these women, our posts are public and up for public scrutiny. You don’t have to sit by and agree with (or “appreciate”) my PUBLIC post, but I don’t have to appreciate theirs either. I don’t. I think it was harmful to many who listen to them. They have a right to post what they like, but I have a right to refute it.

    But if it is painful for them, it is my responsibility as their sister to acknowledge their feelings.

    Sincerely, then why won’t you also acknowledge MINE. My feeling is that it’s irresponsible and harmful to publicly denounce our leaders–particularly while utterly misquoting them. Why is it your responsibility to chastise me for responding to them critically, instead of just acknowledging my feelings? Sincerely, I DO feel pain that my sisters are publicly misrepresenting our leaders, denouncing their statements, and getting others to join forces with them in doing so.

    Again, I’m really not suggesting that you should do so. I appreciate your post and your insights and welcome them here, whether you agree with me or not. But I do think such a position should be extended equally. Those who criticize our leaders shouldn’t expect (or get) more “acknowledgment” and “understanding” (for their pain or otherwise) than those who support our leaders.

    BTW, “to the mothers in zion” was a North American fireside and not a general conference address to the entire church, so I’m not sure how comparable they are.

    FWIW, I was only “comparing” them in the sense that they were very direct counsel that would require those listening, perhaps, to CHANGE. IMO Benson’s words, whomever his intended audience, were much more direct, broad, and life-altering than a nudge to get your house in order.

    In closing (ahem), I’ll tell you where I got permission to use “unkind” words, when they are accurate. Sherry Dew (“You Were Born to Lead, You Were Born for Glory”).

    Repentance is, frankly, just plain smart, because sin makes you stupid: Stupid because you are deaf, dumb, and blind to the ways of the Lord. Stupid because habitual sin drives the Spirit away, leaving you outside the protective influence of the Holy Ghost. Stupid because it makes you incapable of drawing upon the powers of heaven. Being stupid costs a lot.

  • mlinford December 31, 2007, 3:33 pm

    Naismith, welcome!

    I’ve deleted what I wrote, because I already shared my thoughts elsewhere and I really don’t want to get into this again. :) But I did appreciate both the analysis in Alison’s article (especially regarding the misrepresentations), and also Naismith’s concerns, which I share. But if you want my thoughts in more detail, they are on the other thread. :)

    Carry on. :)

  • ChanJo December 31, 2007, 3:46 pm

    I just waded through all this – took me since yesterday. I love the article and I like the tone. I don’t think it was unkind, it was humorous and still on target.

    Naismith if you got upset about the pepsi comment I hope you also got upset at these other groups at least as much for discrediting the general leaders.

  • SilverRain December 31, 2007, 4:27 pm

    I don’t believe that just because something is the truth, it should necessarily be said. I don’t go around telling people they should lose weight, for instance. I also don’t believe that attacking someone back when one’s own feelings are hurt is the best way to heal relationships or people – by either those who would fight against Sister Beck’s words, or those who would belittle the ones who do.

    I do believe that sometimes hard truths have to be said to those who don’t want to hear them. I do believe that one should always try to say things lovingly before they are said harshly. I do believe that no one should ever upbraid another without showing an increase of love towards that person. I don’t always do that, but I wish I did. I try to.

    I also believe that sometimes censorship is the best policy. Sometimes the tongue is not the words of God but the fires of hell. It is true that the tongue of angels and the voice of the Spirit may hold words of chastisement, but without charity, even angels’ words are worthless.

  • Lewis_Family December 31, 2007, 4:58 pm

    I was offended by the pepsi comment :bigsmile: My hubby works for pepsi, so please refrain from unflattering comments about the product :wink:

  • kiar December 31, 2007, 6:04 pm

    wahhh, you make me crave the dreaded Dr. Pepper! how dare you tap in to my dark side? I refuse to repent. you can’t make me!

  • Naismith January 1, 2008, 7:35 am

    I don’t know if it’s unkind or not. But I do think it’s true.

    Well, I guess that’s just where we differ in style. Like SilverRain noted so eloquently, I don’t think it helps matters to adopt such a tone. It pretty much closes down meaningful discussion, which would be a shame because your essay made wonderfully logical points about the misrepresentations, etc.

    Why would you want to dilute your own strong arguments by engaging in name-calling and harsh rhetoric?

    It reminds me of a West Wing episode (one I watch every Christmas), in which a prostitute says, “You’re the good guys. You should act like it.”

    I agree that we should support our church leaders. I agree that we should raise questions about public criticism against them. We only disagree on whether unkind language and personal attacks are warranted.

    In closing (ahem), I’ll tell you where I got permission to use “unkind” words, when they are accurate. Sherry Dew (“You Were Born to Lead, You Were Born for Glory”).

    I loved that talk, but I can’t see where she says it is okay to engage in namecalling? Indeed, she describes how she stands up for the truth this way: “In the end I simply shared my personal experience.”

    I think that is a great way to do things. We should all share our personal experiences as women in the church, and question the arguments of those who criticize our leaders, from inside or outside the church. We should be bold in declaring our own beliefs. I just think that we can do it with mutual respect that will allow a dialogue.

  • kiar January 1, 2008, 11:02 am

    we should be bold in in declaring our own beliefs? I think alison has been very bold, and was able to do it with humor. You may not agree with the style she used, but let’s just agree to disagree. Many of the people fighting against sister Beck are using slander, misrepresentation and vitrol to try to push thier agendas. (which seems to be the fact that they don’t want to live up to the standards that we should be striving to attain) Alison approached it with humor and a touch of sarcasm. Is she to only use sweet and pleasant language when dealing with stupidity? When given the choice of beating around the bush, using flowery speech and trying to make everyone happy, or getting straight to the point and steppin gon some toes, I say go for the foot stomp. Women are upset because they are so used to being told that they are wonderful, and special, and that they are doing a good job. When we get told that we need to shape up, it hits a nerve. I believe my mother called it “Righeous Indignation!”

  • spande2 January 1, 2008, 11:16 am

    Exactly, kiar. That is just what I wanted to say, but I was working on it while you were typing and you said it better. :)

    Sometimes a little humor and a touch of sarcasm help illustrate the ridiculousness of the situation. (Okay, the pepsi comment may have been unwarranted, but I think it was intended to lighten the mood. I just skimmed the article again and failed to see any name calling other than “wimps”, which I didn’t find offensive in context. Am I missing something?)

  • spande2 January 1, 2008, 11:17 am

    I have to wonder at the timing of this overreaction to established LDS doctrine. It isn’t like there aren’t a lot of people looking for anti-LDS sentiment at the moment. When did the uproar begin? Do you know? Given that the talk was given in October and the Iowa primary is right around the corner, so you think there is a connection?

  • spande2 January 1, 2008, 11:18 am

    do you think there is a connection

  • jennycherie January 1, 2008, 11:25 am

    Posted By: kiarYou may not agree with the style she used,

    I think this goes back to the *tone* that we can’t hear in writing. When I read Allison’s article, the tone I “hear” is one of humor with a touch of sarcasm, but it seems that maybe others are hearing a harsher tone. I thought Allison’s article was right on but it won’t sit the same with everyone.

  • delmar January 1, 2008, 12:22 pm

    Ah foot stomping, totally my way of letting people know how I feel. Seriously I can’t believe the uproar over Sis Becks talk is continuing into a 4th month now!!!! Yikes!

  • Alison Moore Smith January 1, 2008, 12:53 pm

    The uproar started right after conference. I don’t know if there’s a correlation to the election, probably not. But a bunch of antis are marginals sure jumped on it.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 1, 2008, 1:10 pm

    Posted By: SilverRainI don’t believe that just because something is the truth, it should necessarily be said.

    Do note that I didn’t say that at all. I’ve debated it myself. My statement was that I felt it was true and didn’t know if it was really unkind or not. Sincerely, being “kind” is something I value, but I value lots of things MORE than I value kindness.

    And I think our culture is obsessed with a politically correct version of “kindness” which utterly buries the truth.

    Posted By: NaiasmithI also don’t believe that attacking someone back when one’s own feelings are hurt is the best way to heal relationships or people.

    True, but don’t assume that the article was written in an attempt to “heal” those who are condemning President Beck. It wasn’t. And (to address Naiasmith) it also wasn’t written to start a “dialogue” with them. They are welcome to comment, as always, however.

    Lewis, like I said, I KNEW I should have said Coke! It was utterly inconsiderate of me!

    Why would you want to dilute your own strong arguments by engaging in name-calling and harsh rhetoric?

    Naiasmith, I ask again, why is it OK for you to call me “harsh,” but inappropriate for me to say that others “don’t have a clue”? This is a sincere question.

    I loved that talk, but I can’t see where she says it is okay to engage in namecalling?

    She says certain behavior is “stupid.” Repeatedly. I say some behavior shows “cluelessness.” I believe there is a correlation there. And I suspect had I titled the article, “Mothers Who Know and Others Who are Stupid” you would have still called it “unkind.” Likely even MORE unkind. But some things ARE stupid and some things ARE from the realm of cluelessness. Dew thought it was OK to say so sometimes. So do I.

    I believe calling a spade a spade has it’s place.

    Sincerely, I’m not all the interested in discussing my “tone.” You can like it or hate it. Ever read Miracle of Forgiveness? Man, Kimball was so unkind!

    I’ve been reading Glenn Beck’s An Inconvenient Book this week. I love it, but suspect some would object to his tone as well. It could be seen as “unkind.” But, then again, it’s hard to sound “kind” when your condemning evil, terrorism, and insanity.

    Thanks everyone for your input.

  • spande2 January 1, 2008, 1:26 pm

    Amen! :) Love you, Alison.

  • kiar January 1, 2008, 1:46 pm

    :boogie::boogie::boogie::boogie::boogie:

  • Michelle D January 1, 2008, 1:53 pm

    This is Ray, with one point that needs to be made, imo.

    Someone can assassinate openly, and someone can assassinate secretly. (Think a gun versus poison.) The same is true of any kind of “attack” or “correction” or “analysis” or whatever. Frankly, the direct and open and transparent way is the most honest and least deceptive way. A gun at least is not deceptive – and it kills quickly and painlessly.

    Sister Beck was very direct and transparent in her talk; by and large, her critics have not been. Generally, they have couched their criticisms in terms of righteousness and obfuscation and misrepresentation, but what they have done is MUCH worse than Sister Beck – since they literally have lied and distorted and exaggerated in the process. They have been killing with kindness, which allows them to appear to take the moral high-ground while poisoning someone else.

    Naismith, I like and admire you in many ways – based on comments you have made on other blogs I frequent. I mean that sincerely. In this case, however, I believe you are letting your emotions cloud your judgment. You are doing to Alison exactly what you are castigating her for doing. She has pointed out many of the logical fallacies of those who have opposed Sister Beck’s talk. Sure, she used some humor and a touch of sarcasm, but it actually was VERY slight compared to what she was addressing. This actually was perhaps the most reasoned, least emotional, least offensive, least hyperbolic analysis I have read, and I have read a few. To attack it based on “tone” is creating a mountain out of a molehill – straining at a gnat.

    Finally, I am a dedicated parser. I want my words to be understood for what I actually say, so I try my absolute hardest to give others that same consideration. With that in mind, addressing something simply with regard to tone (especially when that tone is not even close to over-the-top) is a dangerous game, since tone is completely subjective and is interpreted directly by our own biases and experiences. We tend to read something and automatically (literally without conscious thought) conflate it with other things we have read on the same topic – thus planting meaning into it that the author never intended or could have imagined. It has been said, correctly, that we don’t believe what we see; rather, we see what we believe. Likewise, we often don’t understand what we read; rather, we read into things what we understand prior to reading it.

    That is my summary take on both the criticism directed at Pres.Beck and at Alison in this thread. Go back slowly and unemotionally and objectively, and I think you will see what I mean.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 1, 2008, 2:04 pm

    Thanks, Ray. Well said.

    I have to say that for years I have found the difference in reaction between men and women to certain things interesting, at least. This post did include sarcasm, but generally my posts around the web are devoid of emotion. Those make women the angriest.

  • Naismith January 1, 2008, 8:21 pm

    “Go back slowly and unemotionally and objectively, and I think you will see what I mean.”

    Sorry, but just because I don’t agree with you does not mean that I am being “emotional.” I just don’t agree with you:) We can simply disagree on this.

    It doesn’t mean that I am condoning the actions of those who publicly disagreed with Sister Beck’s talk; I don’t. It’s just that I would rather discuss the fallacy of their arguments than label or attack them personally.

    I agree that Alison’s analysis was excellent. I said that in my first comment. I would have been delighted if she had stuck to analysis of the arguments, without adding the additional comments about being on Pepsi, being clueless, etc. The analysis was strong enough to stand on its own, without the sarcastic (and personal) zingers.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 1, 2008, 8:49 pm

    I appreciate that and there are plenty of you who love to write that way. More power to you. Honestly. But I AM sarcastic. I’m not excusing it, but I haven’t been able to remove all my less than admirable traits as of yet. Maybe in 2008. Watch for it. (Ouch…was that sarcasm again? Darn it!)

    But I still ask, why is it OK for you to label me and not OK for me to label them? Or for you to criticize me and not for me to criticize them? If *I* am “sarcastic” and “unkind” and spew “zingers” and “attacks” then what are YOU for saying all those things about ME? How is what you have done BETTER than me saying they’re clueless and buzzing on caffeine? And why isn’t MY pain given the same deference you expect THEIRS to be given?

    In fact, can you appreciate that to SOME people, a sarcastic, slightly tongue-in-cheek slapping around isn’t nearly as cutting as a very sober, direct accusation of unChristlike behavior? Dare I say that some even see the latter as MORE “unkind” or hurtful?

    Again, I welcome your comments and even your criticism. But, as I keep saying, I think those who support our leaders should be granted as least as much wiggle room as those who do not.

    Just this afternoon I was in a discussion where a woman wrote, “Christians are so judgmental.” Do you see the problem?

  • Michelle D January 1, 2008, 10:03 pm

    Naismith, I also appreciate the additional clarification. My response was to the use of the terms “harsh rhetoric” and “personal attacks”. Going back and reading your responses again, I can see where you are coming from, but I still struggle with that type of characterization. I guess I’ve read so much truly harsh rhetoric and so many hyperbolic personal attacks (including most of the negative responses to the original talk) that I just don’t see this post as either harsh rhetoric or a personal attack.

    I apologize if I over-reacted, as well – especially since I was the one who suggested we not do so. Motes and beams, perhaps.

  • Michelle D January 1, 2008, 10:03 pm

    Obviously, that last comment was Ray. I must be tired.

  • davidson January 1, 2008, 10:25 pm

    PUT ON YOUR APRONS AND SING WITH ME NOW!

    :bigsmile: :bigsmile: :bigsmile: :bigsmile: :bigsmile: :bigsmile: :bigsmile: :bigsmile: :bigsmile:

    I hope they call me Molly Mormon
    when I have groaned a year or two!
    I hope by then I will be ready
    to grow (‘though slow), and know what God would have me do.

    I hope that I can share the gospel
    by things I think and do and say.
    I want to be a Molly Mormon,
    and try while some ask why, and love them anyway!

    You’re all good people with valid points to make. We all have different styles, and there is room for a wide variety. One of the things I’ve learned at Mormon Momma is, while my approach might be different than yours, we all feel basically the same way about the same gospel, and we’re all defending the same truths. Eventually we learn to look past the differences in style and see the intent. We have more in common than we realize.

  • kiar January 1, 2008, 10:37 pm

    i love your songs davidson. I sing the version you made up about popcorn under the Christmas tree, and it cracks up my kids!

  • Michelle D January 1, 2008, 11:11 pm

    davidson, I can’t stop laughing – and not just because it is so late here in Ohio. That song is hilarious!

    I’m signing off tonight. Michelle is working tonight and hopefully will be checking back in tomorrow.

    Ray

  • davidson January 1, 2008, 11:42 pm

    Ray, we love to hear from you and Michelle both! I keep trying to get my husband to post, but he thinks he is illiterate. He isn’t. He has a really fun sense of humor, and he writes little songs himself, but I think he thinks this website is strictly girl-stuff. By the way, we both loved the ward mission statement, and he is using yours to help us build one for our ward. Thanks so much.

  • davidson January 1, 2008, 11:44 pm

    :bigsmile: Hugs to you, Kiar! When you get sick of the silly little songs and poems, say “Quit that now!” or something like that.

  • davidson January 1, 2008, 11:46 pm

    If the copyright police come after me, will you visit me in jail? Delmar, will you bring food?

  • SilverRain January 2, 2008, 4:43 am

    I don’t want this to sound harsh, and I admit a certain level of hypocrisy because if it were me, Alison, and our roles are reversed, I don’t know how well I’d take what I’m about to say. I’m horrible at taking criticism, whether constructive and meant in honest concern and caring or not. Despite this, I think what I have to say is important (the height of narcissism.)

    I just wish that we Christians could continue to heal where there is hurt and leave the weeding of the tares from the wheat up to the Lord, no matter what our critics might say of us. It might be nice if we were to be given as much “wiggle room” as they, but we are not as they are, and cannot truly expect to be treated that way. We have dedicated ourselves to achieving something higher.

    To me, though it may seem a good thing to use sarcasm at times, “neither irony or sarcasm is argument,” as Samuel Butler says. It only serves to weaken your good points. You would have been better served to make your points without attacking or belittling. No action on their part justifies action on your part. Isn’t that what we try to teach our children when they say “but moooom, he hit me first?

    And turning the argument back on Naismith is a defensive move that allows you to ignore the possibility that you may have done something less than appropriate without having to actually address her concerns. “Well, I don’t have to worry about what she is saying because SHE is just as bad as I am.” I think you’re smart enough not to have to resort to that tactic, Alison. It is one thing if you have considered that your use of sarcasm may have been inappropriate, but then disagreed with it and finally decided that it was necessary in the context of what you wanted to accomplish. It is another to discount her point because you don’t wish to address it.

    To be rather blunt while still attempting the best I know how to be kind, behavior like this is the reason I don’t post often or at all at some of those other sites. There is no more excuse for it in us than there is in them. It doesn’t elevate us, it doesn’t make us better. All it does is put us at a level where we are so dirty from playing in their sandbox, our Lights are no longer shining. It makes us no different than they are.

    There is a certain delicious irony in sarcasm that mocks the sort of behavior being displayed by the sarcasm.

  • spande2 January 2, 2008, 9:28 am

    Will it be taken as sarcastic and unkind if I tell silver that her last line baffles me? (No I won’t use those words.)

  • spande2 January 2, 2008, 9:32 am

    silver-Maybe “neither irony or sarcasm is argument”, but they are sure a lot more fun to read and write than straight lecture. ;)

  • kiar January 2, 2008, 10:22 am

    agreed!

  • facethemusic January 2, 2008, 11:12 am

    Silver, your post just proved Alison’s point.
    You can say things as kindly as you want, use inclusive terms like “we” and “us” use poetic or flowerly language like “our lights our no longer shining”- but all of that is just a way to try and SOUND less harsh, like you’re not criticizing HER, her article– that it’s not a personal thing about HER, (or others who agree with her, liked the article, etc) but everyone knows that what you’re doing. You’re just trying to SOUND less harsh than you think she was in the article. But, you just did what you accused HER of. You said you wished that we as Christians would leave the weeding of the tares up to the Lord. Then went on to “weed” her from those good Christians who “continue to heal where there is hurt” and who “have dedicated [them]selves to achieving something higher”” and gave quite a harsh though thinly disguised chastisement and criticism, saying that:

    –she attacks and belittles
    –she ignores the possibility that she’s done something wrong
    –she discounts points and doesn’t address them
    –she has no excuse for her behavior
    –she’s “dirty” from playing in “their” sandbox
    – her “Light is no longer shining”
    – she’s no different than they are

    You didn’t “call her a name”, give her a specific label– but that’s a pretty harsh list, even if you didn’t say she “doesn’t have a clue”. And no, you didn’t use sarcasm– but what difference does it make? You were still was making judgments about her article, still criticizing her method and delivery, even points of her character. Is the list of things you said about Alison any less “harsh” than saying someone doesn’t have a clue or is on a Pepsi binge? It still sends the SAME message, just under a bunch of flowery words with a softer tone.
    I think that’s exactly what she was trying to say to Naismith. You might have preferred a softer method, you might not appreciate sarcasm and the tongue-in-cheek approach, but the second you start to criticize someone for THEIR method, you are doing exactly what you’ve accused the first of doing, just with a softer, yet clearly just as critical approach. In fact, since hers uses sarcasm, and tongue-in-cheek humor, it actually seems LESS harsh– where yours, which is supposedly just being as honest as you can be while still being “kind”, is actually MORE harsh, since it’s supposed to be just kindly “honest”.

  • spande2 January 2, 2008, 11:47 am

    Very well said. You are absolutely right! (I’m whispering this so that I don’t “pile on to” silver.)

  • Lisa January 2, 2008, 1:33 pm

    Well, I guess the “other shoe is dropping”. I think when something is point-blank wrong, it is okay to call it wrong. The criticisms of Sister Beck’s talk, and the misrepresentations of her words–well, those behaviors are wrong. Criticisms of our sustained Leaders and Prophets have happened multiple times before…many times with President Benson as was mentioned in Alison’s piece–he didn’t mince too many words. It has happened when President Hinckley counseled against tattoos and piercings among other things. It will happen again. Public criticisms that seem to support behavior contrary to the commandments (as the What women know document seems to do) is just wrong.

    I liked Alison’s writing……it made me laugh……but I am a sarcastic little beast myself!:shocked:

  • Alison Moore Smith January 2, 2008, 3:43 pm

    Thanks, all.

    :rolling: Tracy, thank you for saving me the time!

    Silver, I didn’t “ignore the possibility that [I] may have done something less than appropriate.” In fact, I specifically acknowledged it in my last post!

    And I didn’t say Naismith is as bad as I am–I said repeatedly that I EXPECTED criticism to a public post. (Somehow, I think the petition organizers might have the same idea.) I just ask that you acknowledge that the difference in humor (ahem…to be clear, no, I did not think the posts resulted from caffeine intake) and sarcasm do NOT make my posts “mean” and your posts “kind.” Both are critical and both claim inappropriate behavior on the part of someone else. Yours and Naiasmith’ are at LEAST as harsh and cutting–sarcasm notwithstanding.No one is confused by that, are they?

    My point has always been that if you can not judge and speak critically, well then you can NOT! (And that means neither I nor YOU can.) And if we can, then we might actually tolerate some different styles–even if they aren’t perfect. At least maybe you can see fit to acknowledge MY pain somewhere in the ballpark of the pain of those who are speaking against our leaders. Just remotely. And, FWIW, maybe I have been digging out from the dirty sandbox for a very long time.

    Sincerely, you all can debate whether or not using sarcasm will condemn me to the pit of hell if you like, but it’s such a stretch to say that “honest” criticism is “kind” and pointed sarcasm is “unChristlike.”

    But, I’ll point something out. Naiasmith never bothered to post here UNTIL she found a sarcastic post that twisted her knickers. Does that make it “kind”? No. But it does make it effective. And maybe that was more important to me than kindness.

    BTW, I have a little pile of emails from lurkers who bear out that thinking. In a good way.

  • ChanJo January 2, 2008, 4:00 pm

    Can I change the subject? Can we talk about the holier than thou sugar sweet tone of voice used to tell people how bad they are? I think thats inappropriate. Ever lived in the south?

    ::::::running:::::::

  • SilverRain January 2, 2008, 4:34 pm

    I had a response all typed out and lost it. In contemplating reposting, I realized I just didn’t care that much. Enjoy your own opinions, ladies, and I shall enjoy mine. C’est la vie.

  • Michelle D January 2, 2008, 4:56 pm

    Ray, again. This next comment is not meant to be sarcastic, but I realize it could be read that way. Please believe me; it is not meant to be sarcastic.

    My sole New Year’s Resolution this year is described on my blog – here. This month, it is focusing on ways to become more poor in spirit. Honestly, I read SliverRain’s last comment and immediately started to respond to the tone; then it hit me that such a response would not further my resolution.

    I’m not sure how to say that in a properly humble way, but I also think it is important to my success in this resolution to not respond in kind. I understand that my last sentence might be seen as less than poor in spirit, but it isn’t meant to be. It is sincere. I can’t lose my God-given gift of discernment, but I need to learn better how to respond with the type of spirit I am resolved to try to internalize more deeply this month.

    I hope that makes sense to someone. It just hit me that I should share it.

  • Michelle D January 2, 2008, 5:14 pm

    I am a non-confrontational person. I agree with points on both sides of this discussion… or argument… or whatever you want to call it. But I don’t want to go there.

    I would like to say that while I don’t visit many other sites, I do enjoy (but don’t always agree with) most of the comments I have read from SilverRain, Naismith, and all of you who regularly comment. I hope they will continue to comment here and elsewhere. FWIW, I think MM is one of the best LDS blogs I’ve read… though I guess that is because it fits my personality and current needs better than most.

    davidson, thank you for this:

    Ray, we love to hear from you and Michelle both! I keep trying to get my husband to post, but he thinks he is illiterate. He isn’t. He has a really fun sense of humor, and he writes little songs himself, but I think he thinks this website is strictly girl-stuff. By the way, we both loved the ward mission statement, and he is using yours to help us build one for our ward. Thanks so much.

    You should continue to try to convince your husband to comment! (Ray is actually the one who had to convince me!) Let us know how your ward vision statement turns out! It has worked so well for our ward. I think it’s awesome that others are using this model. That is a side benefit from my first post that I totally didn’t expect!!

  • ChanJo January 2, 2008, 5:39 pm

    Sorry my last post was sarcastic. I came back to say something.

    I just don’t get why people think saying all sorts of bad things about someone is KIND just because they don’t include jokes in it. I may not be the smartest person here but thats just crazy talk where I come from.

    Like I said, in the south they can cut you down to the ground in the _nicest_ way with the prettiest words, a lilt in their voices, and a smile on their faces. That doesn’t make it nice or kind. Its just a way to practice being awful so that you can pretend its nice. Im not saying that naismith and silver did that exactly, but its kind of the same. Allison is “unkind” for being sarcastic and so your going to spend 4000 lines telling her just how unkind she was–but since you dont joke its ok. ????

    Can I ask whats so bad about saying you dont have a clue? If you compare that to the stuff they said about Allison (from faces post)

    –she attacks and belittles
    –she ignores the possibility that she’s done something wrong
    –she discounts points and doesn’t address them
    –she has no excuse for her behavior
    –she’s “dirty” from playing in “their” sandbox
    – her “Light is no longer shining”
    – she’s no different than they are

    I think what they said to her was way ruder than saying you dont have a clue or drink pepsi. Thats all im going to say probably.

  • ChanJo January 2, 2008, 5:42 pm

    sorry one more thing. I think it kind of sucks to criticise someone so much in a bunch of posts and then to figure out you really “dont care that much.” Maybe you shouldn’t cut someone down if you don’t care. im leaving this post.

  • SilverRain January 2, 2008, 5:54 pm

    I apologize for the tone. It wasn’t intended to sound so short. Frankly, I had a screaming toddler in the background (screaming because she didn’t get her nap at the daycare) at the same time I was on the ‘phone trying to get a financial problem sorted out that should never have happened.

    Your comment, Ray, is exactly part of what I was trying to get at: to not respond in kind. My comments weren’t meant as a personal attack on Alison in any way. I thought I had tried to communicate that. (I still feel that the “you’re doing it too” argument is beneath her.) And what I mean by “I don’t care” is “I don’t care enough to try to make my point to people who have already made up their minds when I am already beginning to feel overwhelmed by the screaming toddler and technically specific phone conversation.”

    I feel that it is noble to take the better part. I feel it more Christlike to always try to keep the other person’s feelings in mind when weighing one’s words. I don’t think sarcasm is ever funny because it is always at someone’s expense. I think there is a difference between “joking” and mockery, which is what sarcasm is. I was addressing general modes of behavior, leaving it up to Alison to decide whether or not she had done those things. Facethemusic’s list was therefore erroneous, though it has demonstrated that anything can be taken as a highly personal attack if the person wants to take it that way. I maintain there is a difference between freely saying “yes, I meant to offend, and I’m justified in taking that stance” and “I don’t want to offend, but I believe you’re wrong here.” The second one acknowledges a person’s value and leaves things as open for discussion as they can be if there is disagreement. One of the main differences in this is that I do not feel attacked by Alison’s words. Therefore, I am not personally offended and am not letting my own feelings of hurt justify unkindness. Contrarily, I am seeing that others could be hurt and am urging tact on their behalf. If one goes back to read what I wrote, they would see:

    • First paragraph is a preamble, trying to say that although some of the things I’ll say are criticism, they are meant in concern or caring. I see neither concern nor caring for those women with problems about Sister Beck’s talk in Alison’s analysis. Maybe it’s there and I missed it.
    • Second paragraph was discussing generalities of Christian behavior and how we can’t expect to be held to the same standards as everyone else because we are, by choice, not just like everyone else.
    • Third paragraph gets more specific, true. I’m trying to say her points were weakened by the sarcasm, not strengthened by it. They are not attacks on Alison’s person, but on her style of address.
    • Fourth paragraph deals with the fallacy of “I’m justified in what I do because they did it first”. It is also not, as facethemusic would suggest, an attack on Alison’s person. I say what that sort of argument allows. I did not say Alison actually did that. That’s for her to judge.
    • The last paragraphs are probably the rudest and they are, again, talking about the behavior and how we should be better than that, not about Alison’s person. Alison’s article departs from discussion of behavior even in the title. “Don’t have a clue” and “wimps” is followed by several great paragraphs that all discuss ideas and behavior without casting aspersions on the people who feel that way. It continues in this much better-constructed vein until she starts talking about homemaking and employs sarcasm against the intelligence of those who did not parse the semantics.

    She then further reinforces the divide with her mocking tone for the rest of the article. If that is what she wanted to do, then she was successful. I just wish that we could have used this opportunity to heal. I’m not saying what I mean as well as I would hope, but Margaret D. Nadauld said it better when she said;

    Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.

    I don’t see much difference between the tone of her words and their tone, if it comes down to it, nor much difference between the conversation at “that other site” and this one, but if Alison feels justified in her choice of words, that is her prerogative. I have said what I felt I should say, now that things have settled down around here.

  • kiar January 2, 2008, 6:01 pm

    who cares what the women who are attacking the woman who was called by the Lord to lead the women of his church think???? they are wrong. They are getting thier feelings hurt because they are wrong, and they know it! Why must we continue to coddle these pathetic people? Does it make us the better person to say that they are just misunderstood? no it just makes us feel better about ourselves…

  • SilverRain January 2, 2008, 6:16 pm

    We are all wrong and pathetic in different ways. It pays to understand that and to develop some compassion. If it were appropriate, I’d bet Julie Beck is far more concerned with their pain than she is with the words they say to her.

  • kiar January 2, 2008, 6:26 pm

    I agree that we all have our pathetic and wrong attributes. In fact I probably have more than my fair share. I also have a great deal of compassion. But I also don’t really have the time or energy for people with small minds. If someone can explain their point of view, and give valid points, then I can see their side of an argument. But when they are using dirty tactics, and attacking someone’s character, simply because they were called to mat (per se), they no longer deserve compassion. Until these women who are defaming Sister Beck either retract their statements, and repent of not supporting their God given leaders, they are smallminded, and silly. I am sure Sister Beck does feel sad and concerned for their pain (you think she doesn’t know what is being said about her?) but I don’t see her retracting her words, or making any apologies for any hurt feelings, or stepped on toes. What she said can be taken as gospel. The Prophet of the Lord approved her talk. It is up to us to take those words, and find a way to make them a part of our lives, not feel bad because somebody got hurt feelings.

  • Cherylem January 2, 2008, 7:32 pm

    Thank you all for the parts of this discussion that have addressed Whatwomenknow.org. Inasumuch as one of our goals was to stimulate such discussion, I am especially appreciative of those of you who have made thoughtful responses to this document, including the original post.

    You might be interested in other excellent discussions regarding the issues Whatwomenknow.org raised. For instance, there is a great discussion regarding the stripling warriors here: http://feastuponthewordblog.org/2007/11/21/alma-56-58-the-stripling-warriors/

    There was a very good discussion regarding calling out here: http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=1509
    and a male point of view here:http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=1540

    There was some good discussion you might find interesting regarding gender issues here:http://exponentblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/what-should-we-expect-from-our-leaders.html

    There are several other links I could post but that will do for now. Also don’t forget the FAQ itself, here: http://www.whatwomenknow.org/faq.html

    We all realize that not all will agree with our public posting, but I do want to say that we never ever intended a personal attack on Pres. Beck and I, for one, still cannot find one in our document. Nevertheless, I do not want to start yet another argument regarding this matter; it is enough – and we have heard you – that you have seen this as a personal attack.

    I do want to respond – once only – to some of the other comments here. As a mother of 13 who sent, so far, five sons on missions, as a grandmother of 24, and as a signer of the WWK document, please do not think that the giving of our names publicly was not done without counting the cost. The rewards for this have come quietly, as comments have come to us one by one: “I can stay “in” now that I now I am not alone,” comes to mind as a frequently voiced comment that comes to us through the site. There are unfortunately many who feel alone, and some of us have known them as they quietly, one by one, have left the church.

    Thank you again, all of you, for your discussion of Whatwomenknow.

  • Cherylem January 2, 2008, 7:34 pm

    And I notice a couple of typos above – sorry!

  • Michelle D January 2, 2008, 8:07 pm

    Matthew 5:43-47 (am not computer savvy enough to highlight the verses)

    Ray

  • mlinford January 2, 2008, 9:42 pm

    who cares what the women who are attacking the woman who was called by the Lord to lead the women of his church think????

    Wow. I think the Lord cares. I think we should, too. We don’t have to coddle or facilitate or encourage something we don’t agree with to do this.

    I think what is interesting about all of this back and forth (and what I think should be remembered) is that Naismith and SilverRain are loyal supporters of our leaders. I think they share the pain Alison feels, as do I. Deeply. But they just also realize that what happened reflects pain, too, and pain is a call for compassion, no matter what the cause — even if we think the pain is caused by cluelessness or stupidity (as often emotional pain is!). This is human nature, and we all react emotionally and cluelessly when we are in pain. What helps is when someone cares enough in our pain to reach out and help us see more clearly, with love.

    But something that I think is being missed here is that part of the reason things like this document happen is because people don’t feel they can share how they really feel at Church, with people who don’t share that pain. They feel that people don’t care, or at least fear that people won’t care about their pain. Or that they will be labeled or dismissed or mocked. Is this what we want, really?

    Criticism of leaders should not happen as it did, and I think this document (What Women Know) crossed a line, whether it intended to or not. I felt betrayed by it, actually. I think these concerns should be more taken to God than to the internet. All of that said, I think If we don’t want documents like this to show up, and to help the big picture, perhaps there is something those of us who don’t agree with what happened and how it happened and what was said can do so that they don’t feel the need to go to the internet to get heard. Maybe that is too idealistic, but I envision a sisterhood where at least people can be honest about how they feel (assuming it’s done in a way that is appropriate in its own right — again, I’m not suggesting that we condone or support or facilitate or ignore inappropriate behavior) without being afraid of being mocked or criticized or condemned for having doubts and concerns. And then maybe there would be less of a felt need to conglomerate online like this like the writers and signers did just to feel heard and cared about. Perhaps there would be fewer emotional responses that come out as attacks on our leaders or on our doctrine, which reactions can undermine the Church and create misunderstandings ‘out there.’ I think this document reflects a sort of explosion of pent-up feelings (which I think is part of the reason it was not really logical in many ways — because I see it first and foremost an emotional document). I am idealistic enough to believe that if we try to be sensitive along the way to people who struggle and have issues with the doctrine surrounding womanhood, that perhaps there might be a little less of this kind of charged reaction, especially online in a way that I think has potential to hurt the Church. I think we all contribute to this problem. There is a sort of collusion here, and I think it’s something all of us can work to make better.

    I say this, again, as someone who was really, really upset when that document first came out. I lost sleep over it. Like I said, I felt betrayed by friends and acquaintances (like wait — I thought we were on the same team!). But, as I explained elsewhere in another thread, I personal, one-on-one experiences that helped me see that there is more to all of this than meets the eye. Even as I still feel the same about the document, I have felt my heart change toward the people and at least have felt more of a desire to at least try to understand or at least say I’m sorry they hurt (especially when to me the hurt seems easy to fix — obviously, for them, it’s not). There are women on that list in my circle of influence. I should care about that, no? I can pray for them, I can at least be aware that they have concerns/issues with the doctrines that are taught and the roles that are encouraged, I can try to reach out in love, and maybe be there to help them feel heard so they feel less need to go to something like this again. As sisters in the gospel, I think we owe them at least an effort to try to understand, even if we find that the logical arguments really weren’t compelling when analyzed, especially when taking a step back from it all as Alison did in her analysis.

    Again, we don’t have to condone the behavior or inappropriately coddle to show this kind of compassion. We can take a stand and still care at the same time. And that is all I have heard Naismith and SilverRain trying to say. I don’t understand why there was so much reaction to what they said — but see? We ALL tend to react when buttons are pushed or when we feel questioned when we feel right or strongly about what we are saying. And really, all any of us really wants when we are reacting (hurting, frustrated, frazzled, befuddled, fed up) is to be heard and understood, even if whoever is listening vehemently disagrees.

  • kiar January 2, 2008, 10:21 pm

    I am not saying that people should not be shown compassion. I just think that we should not have to constantly be worried that we are going to hurt someones feelings. People are too sensitive. I know I am and I am trying to work on it. It is obviously a work in progress.

  • mlinford January 2, 2008, 11:15 pm

    I just think that we should not have to constantly be worried that we are going to hurt someones feelings.

    Of course. But that is a different issue from what has been discussed here, I think. I don’t think anyone has been advocating pussy-footing in a paranoid way to avoid hurting someone but rather seeking to understand more and reacting less. It’s something everyone can do more of with regard to these issues. All of us — those who reacted to Sister Beck and all of us who were unhappy about that. Human nature is to react and to seek to be understood before seeking to understand. (That fact of human nature is one reason why Stephen Covey is rich and famous. :) )

  • heather January 2, 2008, 11:51 pm

    Thank you Alison for the absolutely wonderful article. Wouldn’t it be interresting if we could just let the women outside the church speak thier views about Sis. Becks message? I bet some would be supportive simply because I believe more and more women are searching for values and direction in their lives no matter what the religious stand. What could one LOSE in attaining all that Sis. Beck outlined for a latter day woman?

  • mlinford January 3, 2008, 12:39 am

    and p.s. to me, this goes beyond Alison’s article and so isn’t about her per se. We do each have our own styles of expression, and at some point, there is no point in hashing that all out back and forth.

    But FWIW, my feelings here reflect what I have been thinking about for months and months in the bloggernacle and even years of interacting with women who struggle and are not meant to simply be limited to this article. There’s a bigger issue here that I think is worth addressing, and it is about women not feeling safe with each other, on many fronts, and feeling they have to play a game or put on a front to fill what they think other people think they should do or say or be. I think there are two levels to this — we each have an individual responsibility to work on our relationship with God so we are secure in who we are and in His love, regardless of what goes on around us, and to have a testimony that the restored and revealed and repeated doctrines in this church really are from God, and understand them as they are meant to be understood.

    But don’t we also all have a responsibility to try to make church a safe place even in our imperfections and struggles? I think the adversary delights in this feeling of isolation and separation that happens for many reasons, not just what has been reflected in this document. What has made me sad about this document is that women have felt so pushed aside that they feel they needed this kind of thing to be heard, to feel valued. Some of that is their responsibility, as we all are responsible for our covenants and relationship with God and need to decide on how we will respond to the leaders of the Church (to me, this is part of our covenants). But isn’t at least some of what has happened possibly a reflection of the weaknesses of our culture and how we often feel we have to put on a face, and fit a mold, and are often too quick and judgmental and unaccepting of people who are too different or whom we don’t understand? Haven’t most of us felt that loneliness and fear and pain (“please, just love me where I am right now?”) along the way in one way or another?

  • mlinford January 3, 2008, 12:40 am

    And now I’m saying too much, again. Sorry. Just that human desire not to be misunderstood rearing its head again. :)

  • davidson January 3, 2008, 8:59 am

    Heather, nice to hear from you again! I wondered where you were. I liked what you said.

  • davidson January 3, 2008, 11:52 am

    Mlinford, I love you and you know I do. I will continue to love you. And I’ll probably continue to disagree with you on this matter. Maybe I just don’t understand what you’re trying to say, but I’ve read your posts on this thread and others concerning this matter over and over again, and the only thing I can do is disagree with your premise. What these women are doing is WRONG. Providing them a feeling of safety would be wrong, too. They are doing dangerous things, and first and foremost, they need to recognize that. Encouraging them (even if encouragement means listening patiently) to their voices of dissent so they can be “heard” is wrong, too. They don’t need to be heard. They need to be corrected. They need to be invited to repent. Priesthood leaders will take care of that, but they need to find it in themselves to bend their wills to the will of the Lord. The phrase “honestly struggling” is a contradiction in terms. If they were being honest, if they were honestly keeping the commandments, they wouldn’t have the need to raise their voices in opposition to the authorized servants of God. That is true! If any one of those signers has a temple recommend, he or she shouldn’t have it, because the temple interview questions specifically explore willingness to support authorized leaders of the Church. YOU CAN’T SIGN A DOCUMENT LIKE THAT AND SAY YOU SUPPORT THE LEADERS; that wouldn’t be honest. I mean, look at the “enlightened reading” they offer in the post above. There is great danger in feeling that authorized servants need to be corrected, enlightened, persuaded. Any tolerance of dissident views is not helping them; it is hindering them in a very real way. Surely we should continue to minister to them. And what do we mean by minister? Not cast them out of our places of worship. Continue to preach the gospel to them. Continue to administer the ordinances, and continue to encourage them to worthily partake of the ordinances offered. But help them feel safe? Give them a place where their voices can be heard? I don’t think that’s part of ministering. (If I am wrong, then so is the Bible Dictionary, because that’s where I got the information about what it means to “minister.”) Our Lord was a very kind man. He was also known to sternly correct those in the wrong. Would we dare say he was being unkind in those situations? He didn’t put his arm around the Pharisees and try to make them feel comfortable and accepted. He was kind enough and bold enough to speak the truth, because the truth could save them from the very real danger in which they had planted themselves. Perhaps the lack of offering comfort and acceptance from a man who habitually did so might have served to sober them, to help them understand that what they were doing was serious. Once when my husband was young, he saved his brother from drowning by pulling him up by the hair! I’m sure that hurt horribly! But it saved his life and was small pain compared to what he and others would have felt, had he continued on that course.

    I can’t quit thinking about President Hinckley’s father, who was habitually kind and comforting. When young Gordon wrote home to “let his voice be heard” about how awful things were in his mission, Bryant Hinckley took a stand and made it clear that he wouldn’t tolerate such speaking. He told his young son, “Forget yourself and go to work.” Wise. Kind. Young Gordon didn’t need understanding; he needed correction. And to this day, Gordon B. Hinckley still speaks about how grateful he was to his father for saying what needed to be said at that crucial crossroad.

    It boggles my mind that some leave the Church and say, in essence, “You made me do it.” That can’t possibly be true. People looking to find fault will always find it and use it as a reason to leave. The truths are available to everyone, and they remain true! even when some choose to depart. Why would anyone abandon REAL TRUTH over hurt feelings? It is a personal choice. But they need to know it is a personal choice for which they will be held accountable. The kindest thing, in the long run, is to remind them of that and not be too quick to make them feel safe and heard.
    There is but one Voice to hear; the others don’t matter. Including mine. Including theirs.

  • mlinford January 3, 2008, 1:44 pm

    davidson, I do think you are misunderstanding me. Sorry that I haven’t been more clear, but I’m not sure how else to say it all. We can’t simply just correct someone we don’t really understand. Of course, we can share our understanding and testimonies, but my experience has been that simply sharing in a general way doesn’t usually help people with doubts and concerns. The kind of ministering these people will respond to, in my experience anyway, is more personal, more one-and-one, and built on a relationship of love and trust. Pres. Hinckley’s father could say what he did in the way that he did because 1) it was his direct stewardship 2) he had a relationship of trust built on years and years of loving kindness and 3) it was a one-on-one interaction.

    One of the things that I learned on my mission is that the best way to understand and try to help resolve concerns in one-on-one, with patience and love and a listening ear. What I wanted to do was stand on the rooftops and shout my message to everyone. It would have saved a lot of time, or so I thought. But really, the Savior taught us a lot by His one-on-one ministering. Think of the woman at the well, for example. He taught her line upon line, with what she could understand. As He took the time with her, in ways that were seen by the culture as being inappropriate (a Jewish man talking to a Samaritan woman??), she learned more and more. Her eyes and heart were opened to really see Him for who He was. Think of when He had 2500 people come and feel the prints in His hands and feet. It would have been more efficient at the face of it to just stand and hold them up so everyone could see. But instead, He took the time to individually minister, to help them have personal experiences with Him. Of course, like I said above, some of that falls on each of us to discover for ourselves. But I believe we can and should minister one-and-one when we have the chance. We do this as visiting teachers. We should be willing to do this as friends and sisters in the gospel — to minister one-on-one and to really try to understand so we can better know how to testify and how to help.

    Please note also that a listening ear does NOT have to mean a condoning attitude. A listening ear is not necessarily going to give strength to a wrong understanding of things. The listening ear is as much for us to understand and open our hearts in love, as it is for them to be heard. But, again, I don’t think we can’t really address and help resolve concerns if we don’t really understand what is driving them.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t share our understanding and testimony in general ways. I will say again that, for example, I think Alison’s post analyzed the document very well. I wrote several posts on Sister Beck’s talk, and expressed my disappointment in the responses even before this document came out. And I think it’s important to find ways to clarify the misunderstandings for others out there.

    But I don’t think general “corrective” declarations will usually be enough if we care about helping individuals who felt strongly enough to sign this document, for example. Each of the women who signed that document has concerns, but I don’t think we could usually address them in a general way, because I suspect that each has his/her reasons, and they probably stem from different causes. And they often have walls up to the usual teachings and pat answers. Some of that may never change for some, but I think there are others who would listen more if we showed more personally that we care.

    I suspect we each have women like that around us. I would hope we would be sensitive to that possibility, and try to help those who are also sheep and who may be feeling lost, or may truly be lost because of their view of the doctrine. The Lord talked of going out of the way to save the one. This is what I am talking about.

    Once again, I’m not disputing the need to speak the truth boldly when moved upon by the Spirit. There are just different ways to do that. I’m addressing one way that I think is important to consider.

    I also don’t think any of us is in a position to really know the hearts of the people, so I won’t jump on the bandwagon of saying that these people shouldn’t be going to the temple. We are not authorized to make such judgments, and I don’t think it’s appropriate to go there, even though I have said many times that I think this document and the way it was presented and the tone and specific mentioning of Sister Beck were all inappropriate. We can disagree with what happened but we simply cannot judge their hearts and their worthiness.

    FWIW, I agree that the Church can’t make anyone make choices. I agree with accountability. I agree with the fact that there is ‘one Voice to hear.’ But that Voice is only heard with the Spirit, and that is the key to true ministering. With people who struggle in this way, I think often that ministering is most effective at a very personal, one-on-one level. If you feel to do something differently, then of course, that is between you and the Lord.

    Don’t know if that clarifies anything at all.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 3, 2008, 3:29 pm

    Posted By: SilverRainYour comment, Ray, is exactly part of what I was trying to get at: to not respond in kind.

    Did I respond “in kind”? They attacked our leaders. I was sarcastic. I see those as different issues.

    I still feel that the “you’re doing it too” argument is beneath her.

    OK, do I have to address this AGAIN?

    I did NOT use the argument that “you’re doing it, too, so it’s OK that I did it.” That isn’t my position and never has been. I’m sincerely sorry if that is what it seems I’m saying. Honestly I do NOT know how to be more clear. Particularly since I first acknowledged my flaw and then reminded you that I had acknowledged my flaw.

    My point is that if YOUR (or Naiasmith’s or whoever’s) position is that being critical is “unkind”–then YOU should not do it. Or else you’re just being a hypocrite. It’s circular (like those who JUDGE others as being sinful for JUDGING.).

    If it’s OK, then you shouldn’t condemn ME for doing it.

    And, as I said, I think the apparent delineation some have made between **critical with humor and sarcasm** and **very critical in a “serious tone”** is simply fallacious.

    I feel it more Christlike to always try to keep the other person’s feelings in mind when weighing one’s words.

    Except mine.

    Again, I’m not condemning you for speaking out. I’m condemning the DOUBLE STANDARD. Those who speak out against our leaders must have their feelings considered, those who defend the leaders do NOT.

    If your values demand such deference to FEELINGS, then you should give deference to MINE as well. Sincerely, why do I not rank among those worthy of feelings consideration? If I FEEL like being sarcastic, is that SO BAD that it demands condemnation–while FEELING like creating a movement against our leaders is so understandable that it DEMANDS a different approach?

    I don’t think sarcasm is ever funny because it is always at someone’s expense.

    Or someTHINGS’s expense or an IDEA’s expense.

    I was addressing general modes of behavior, leaving it up to Alison to decide whether or not she had done those things.

    Oh, puhleez! You’re saying that suddenly, in the midst of this discussion, the general idea of discussing sarcasm popped into your mind and you brought it up? Of course it was directed at me and my post. It was…ahem…at my expense. Even though no sarcasm was involved. It was critical of my article and my behavior. Let’s be straight up.

    I maintain there is a difference between freely saying “yes, I meant to offend, and I’m justified in taking that stance”

    Did I miss someone saying this?

  • davidson January 3, 2008, 3:32 pm

    Mlinford, you don’t need to worry about making yourself clear. You are very good at clarifying what you think, and I enjoy the way you write and the things you say. I just can’t agree with this particular post. Discomfort is a CONSEQUENCE for actions they have chosen. A person can’t do wrong and feel right. To try to remove their discomfort would be to thwart the purposes of God. He is the one that sent that discomfort! Who are we to remove it? It would be like my husband giving my children jellybeans after I told them their consequence for eating too much candy was no more candy! Peace and comfort are rewards of the Spirit for well-doing. If you provide peace and comfort for the breaking of commandments, you are creating a false sense of security for them, helping them feel that it’s not so serious after all, since they can still find their comfort somewhere. IMO, what they need, in one-on-one situations and in general, is truth expressed gently, and they are free to keep it or dispose of it. We can throw ourselves against a wall of truth, and harm ourselves, or we can see the wall of truth for what it is: a protecting fortress. The wall of truth isn’t harmed one bit by people who throw themselves against it. And sitting on the fence, trying to please people on both sides, isn’t very healthy either. Some things are wrong. Some things are right. We can still love them, pray for them, worry about them, include them in our meetings, and be truthful with them. We are our sisters’ keepers, and that is the stewardship you and I share. You and I bear exactly the same relationship to them, whether we know them or not, unless you are related to them or have a specific calling with them of which I’m not aware. They are our sisters in the gospel. And some of their actions are wrong. We have an obligation to go after them, but that is how we “go after the lost sheep,” to find them and gently offer them the truth in love, not to give them a false sense of peace and security. Elder Bednar’s famous talk is a pefect example. Their reaction to what we say is their responsibility.

    And speaking of truth, it is true that if people publicly sign their names to documents negating the principles taught by Church leaders, they are not supporting Church leaders and can’t honestly say they are worthy to receive a temple recommend. The question asked in a temple recommend interview is a yes or no question; it is not a “submit-an-essay” question. Either we support them or we don’t. There is no gray area there. People who, in such a public way, blare their objections to the speakers of truth declare their own status. We don’t do it for them; we can, however, acknowledge that they’ve done it to themselves.

    I refuse to believe that people signing that document “didn’t know what they were doing.” The sister who wrote the post above even mentioned that the people who had signed it had “carefully counted the cost” of signing.

    You said in a post once that it was probably better to kill a post than it was to wait around until people were ready to kill each other. I think you understand how I feel. I think I understand how you feel. Maybe we should leave it there.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 3, 2008, 4:51 pm

    Welcome, Cheryl.

    The rewards for this have come quietly, as comments have come to us one by one: “I can stay “in” now that I now I am not alone,” comes to mind as a frequently voiced comment that comes to us through the site.

    In the same way, Cheryl, I have received multiple messages saying pretty much what this woman did, “I’m so glad you wrote this. I read the other web sites and they seemed to make sense. But you broke down the lack of logic for me so well, that now I’m not mad about the talk anymore. In fact, I can’t figure out why I was mad, except that these other people were really good at stirring the pot. Turns out their pot was empty, all along.

    “Last of all, I have to be honest, I wouldn’t have even looked at your site unless you’d given it that title. It intrigued me and I thought it was funny.”

    So, there you go. I’m not trying to “heal” the women who designed the petition. Obviously, I’m not trying to reach anyone who finds sarcasm reprehensible. I’m trying to reach the (apparently) moderately large mass of women who are wondering about the merits of this “movement” and who are imperfect enough to accept some imperfection in the author and/or are low enough on the piety totem pole to be genuinely attracted by heinous statements like “Pepsi binge.”

    Now you see why this isn’t just MY blog? I own it, but I have invited lots of writers–most of whom are more righteous than I am–to try to balance it out and reach some of the GOOD Mormons, while I work on the marginal ones.

    But let me tell you my problem with your statement, Cheryl. You claim that some can “stay in” now that they found they aren’t alone. Sincerely, WHAT are they “not alone” in? In being upset about things that were NOT SAID???

    THAT is my problem with this whole document and “movement.” It’s groundless. It’s building some kind of bond based on erroneous information.

    Please know, Cheryl, that you are welcome here in spite of the fact that we disagree on this point.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 3, 2008, 4:58 pm

    Davidson, I appreciate your point about providing a safe haven for inappropriate behavior.

    Posted By: mlinford Maybe that is too idealistic, but I envision a sisterhood where at least people can be honest about how they feel (assuming it’s done in a way that is appropriate in its own right — again, I’m not suggesting that we condone or support or facilitate or ignore inappropriate behavior) without being afraid of being mocked or criticized or condemned for having doubts and concerns.

    OK, wait. So people should be honest about how they feel UNLESS they feel sarcastic. Then their FEELINGS can be “criticized and condemned.” Or is it that only “doubts and concerns” can be expressed “honestly” and we have to shut up about being fed up with lies and misrepresentation?

    And then maybe there would be less of a felt need to conglomerate online like this like the writers and signers did just to feel heard and cared about.

    Sincerely, do we KNOW these are the feelings of the creators? Who ARE the creators?

    We can’t simply just correct someone we don’t really understand.

    Come on now, do ANY of you really think you understand ME? My husband has lived with me for 22 years (over half my life) and HE doesn’t!

    I am idealistic enough to believe that if we try to be sensitive along the way to people who struggle and have issues with the doctrine surrounding womanhood that perhaps there might be a little less of this kind of charged reaction, especially online in a way that I think has potential to hurt the Church.

    OK, that does it. Naiasmith, Silver, did you see this? ***I*** have “struggled” with “the doctrine surrounding womanhood” (whatever that is) since I was 11. SO THERE! Now you all have to stop criticizing me and be “sensitive” to me–no matter what I say. THAT is the way to get me to stop hurting the cause with my sarcasm!

    No, I’m NOT being sarcastic. (Amazing.) I’m absolutely sincere. I HAVE struggled since Bob (the buy I blogged about ages ago (pseudonym))–the guy who had tormented me daily for over six years–got the priesthood, in spite of his behavior, and I realized I never could. JUST because I was a girl. And, in that delicate condition, I deserve only the greatest love and consideration.

    I’m just happy that now I “qualify” as someone who’s feelings need to be acknowledged and responded to only with mildness and lots of hugging and casseroles.

    We’ll be ready for dinner at 6:00. :bigsmile:

  • mlinford January 3, 2008, 6:16 pm

    OK, wait. So people should be honest about how they feel UNLESS they feel sarcastic. Then their FEELINGS can be “criticized and condemned.” Or is it that only “doubts and concerns” can be expressed “honestly” and we have to shut up about being fed up with lies and misrepresentation?

    Alison, I’m not sure what to say. I think I have acknowledged what you said many times. I think we are all sort of talking past each other and I’m not sure it’s really worth going around and around. My vote is to go back to what davidson said and chalk any differences up to style and move on.

    But please let me say one more time that I am NOT talking about providing safe harbor for inappropriate behavior. That statement alone suggests to me that there is a LOT of misunderstanding going on here. Makes me feel a bit ill, but at some point, it’s just not worth continuing the back and forth, especially when I’m not so sure we see things that differently, and especially when we feel strongly about following our leaders.

    OK, that does it. Naiasmith, Silver, did you see this? ***I*** have “struggled” with “the doctrine surrounding womanhood” (whatever that is) since I was 11. SO THERE!

    FWIW, I know you have and I am grateful that you boldly defend the doctrine so often. That is all the more meaningful because you have struggled. So some of our styles differ. It seems insane that there is so much infighting in the end over core things that most of us agree on, though.

    BTW, I’m glad to hear this was able to help people not be mad about the talk anymore. Perhaps each of us in our own ways and styles can help different people. Yay.

    And I am sorry if you are feeling criticized or frustrated whatever through all of this. (I really am not sure what you are feeling, but I can tell it’s not all fuzzy nice and warm, and I’m sorry for what I may have added to that. If a casserole would help, I’ll bring one. :) )

    So, I’ll just say thanks for your analysis and defending Sister Beck’s talk.

    Speaking of Sister Beck, maybe we can just get back to her talk now? All in favor? :)

  • mimosa January 3, 2008, 7:16 pm

    Allison, I’ll take a little bit different tack here. I’m disappointed that you feel it’s ok to call anyone stupid, or clueless. I hadn’t heard that talk from Sheri Dew before, and find that disappointing also. Stupid
    and clueless
    are insults that I don’t allow my own kids to use, or the kids whom I teach at school, and they’re inappropriate for an adult member of the church to use about other members. Much of what people like Rush Limbaugh deride as “politically correct” now are behaviors that used to be considered polite, or charitable, and I’d put avoiding the use of stupid and clueless, etc, into that category. It’s not really sarcasm either. It’s just name-calling and that’s not particularly witty.

  • Lewis_Family January 3, 2008, 7:51 pm

    What term is approproiate for those lacking wisdom? Ignorant? Uniformed? Though that one might not work, since all recieved the same talk from Sister Beck…. So yes, what terms are ok to use, because I do agree that stupid and dumb are not but I didn’t feel that clueless was inappropriate. I wouldn’t even view clueless as a noun here but more a verb.

  • Naismith January 3, 2008, 7:54 pm

    Like SilverRain, I feel that I have little interest in continuing this discussion. But having caused some traffic, I will make a last clarification

    Alison says her essay, “twisted my knickers.” I realize Alison was probably going for entertaining hyperbole, but that is not an accurate representation of my reaction. Most modern dictionaries define that term as, “agitated, anxious, in a dither; over-reacting.”

    But I was never agitated. I winced, and I was slightly saddened.

    Alison wrote, “Yours and Naiasmith’ are at LEAST as harsh and cutting–sarcasm notwithstanding. No one is confused by that, are they?”

    Yes, I’m pretty confused. Are you saying that these two versions of raising questions about your essay are exactly the same?

    < >I very much appreciated the analysis, particularly how many of the so-called criticisms did not accurately portray Sister Beck’s actual talk. However, I thought the title was inaccurate and unkind, as was questioning whether someone was on “a Pepsi binge” when she wrote the criticism.

    < > Alison must have been high on chocolate when she wrote this self-righteous drivel. In what sorority did she learn to sharpen her little claws? Tsk, tsk.

    In Version 1, a positive point is made first, and the negative points are directed to the work itself, never offering personal criticism.

    In Version 2, no substantive points about the work are addressed. It is simply personal attack of the author.

    So the first is “at LEAST as harsh and cutting” as the second?

    I appreciate that interpersonal variation is infinite, and things affect each of us differently, but research on communication suggests that for most folks, the second version would be considered more harsh because of the personal attack.

    Alison, I am sorry that you think “your feelings are not being considered.” I said that I “very much appreciated the analysis” and praised your “strong arguments.” I agreed that “we should support our church leaders.” I agreed that we “should raise questions about public criticism against them.” I don’t know what else to say.

    Yes, you heard from some women who thought the sarcasm was funny. But there is no way of knowing if that was a representative sample; perhaps you didn’t hear from women who were offended and just figured it was typical insensitive clueless molly-mormon behavior, and that writing you would do no good.

    And, yes, I do go around making a habit of trying not to offend people. For starters, I am a middle child, 4th of 8, and we middlings do tend toward being mediators and negotiators. Second, my career is as a research coordinator, where I regularly must make demands of people who outrank me and my only recourse is gentle persuasion, and where I often have to deal with staff I did not hire, and I have to find ways of working with them. Also, I’ve been a bishop’s wife and ward relief society president, where we tried very hard not to offend people. (Of course I did offend people all the time, but I tried to avoid the more blatant, predictable issues.)

    I loved SIster Beck’s talk. I was making some important life/career decisions that weekend, and her talk provided the answers I sought. I felt cradled in the Lord’s hands as I heard her message. I was thrilled that a talk was devoted entirely to motherhood.

    I’d like to remember that feeling and forget the rest of this.

  • Naismith January 3, 2008, 8:08 pm

    “Discomfort is a CONSEQUENCE for actions they have chosen. A person can’t do wrong and feel right. To try to remove their discomfort would be to thwart the purposes of God. He is the one that sent that discomfort!”

    So you are saying that Alison was a messenger of God when she made personal attacks on those people?

    There is a difference between the discomfort that God allows us to feel as part of the repentance process, and the pain caused by others’ unkind remarks.

    Sorry to be overly serious (and thus not funny and sarcastic enough for your blog), but this reminds me of when I first joined the church. I wasn’t allowed to visit teach, because nobody wanted me in their home. I had home teachers assigned, but they couldn’t come because their wives didn’t want them in my home. I was never asked to serve or speak.

    I had my first child before joining the church, without being married. One sister brightly explained, “We can’t be too nice to you, because then it might seem like what you did was okay!!”

    There is a difference between the pain that the Lord sends and the pain that we humans cause to each other.

    I love Elder Carmack’s book on TOLERANCE. To me there is a huge space between condoning an action and simply not judging it.

  • mimosa January 3, 2008, 8:09 pm

    Lewis_family, Clueless, stupid and dumb are actually all adjectives. Clueless is a fairly recent slang term which has been insulting from the time it came into use. Uninformed would probably be the kindest word to use, but as Naismith ably demonstrated in her comment, it’s more effective to actually address issues in a piece you’re responding to, rather than resorting to name-calling.

  • kiar January 3, 2008, 9:50 pm

    naismith: I am the last person on earth that would equate myself as a “molly-mormon” (I used to have blue hair and a peirced nose while serving in a primary presidency… another story for another day). But I completly agree with alison’s statements, and believe that more women than you think agree with her. I know that the women that I talk to at church, my friends and aquaintances alike, all believe in what sister Beck said, and would totally back what alison has said. This thread is starting to go in circles. so what if she used sarcasm? it is a valid way to get a point across. so what if someone’s feelings may or may not have been hurt. That is why this is a public forum. it all boils down to free agency. if you get your feelings hurt, you don’t have to read her stuff, or you can reply.

  • mlinford January 3, 2008, 10:04 pm

    I’d like to remember that feeling and forget the rest of this.

    I’d like to second this motion. :)

  • Ray January 3, 2008, 10:07 pm

    “I’d like to remember that feeling and forget the rest of this. I’d like to second this motion.”

    Ditto.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 3, 2008, 11:52 pm

    mimosa, welcome to the forum.

    I’m sorry you’re disappointed in me. Sheri and I are probably stupid and clueless for using those words. I still think they’re clueless, but I’m sorry it disappointed you.

    Naiasmith said:

    But I was never agitated. I winced, and I was slightly saddened.

    I apologize for saying your knickers were in a twist. My dictionary does not include the term. I used it to mean “bothered.” If that’s not accurate, then, again, I’m sorry. You SEEMED bothered to me. The point having been that you never posted here UNTIL you were bothered–or wincing. I may be wrong, but there might have been SOME post on MM, in the past five years we’ve been online that may have been worth noting–probably not by me, but maybe by some of the less nasty folk who write here–but none were noted.

    Are you saying that these two versions of raising questions about your essay are exactly the same?

    No, I’m not saying they are exactly the same. I honestly would have said they were exactly the same if I thought they were. I’m saying that your criticisms of me were as harsh and cutting as mine were of them. Which…is what I said. I don’t think yours are more “kind” and, in many ways, they were more direct and pointed.

    And you and Silver directed your specifically AT me. The petition creators were not my intended target, as I said before.

    the title was inaccurate and unkind, as was questioning whether someone was on “a Pepsi binge” when she wrote the criticism…

    I don’t think it helps matters to adopt such a tone…

    It pretty much closes down meaningful discussion…

    engaging in name-calling and harsh rhetoric…

    unkind language and personal attacks…

    label or attack them personally…

    without the sarcastic (and personal) zingers…

    Do you think that sounds “kind”? If you DO, then we just look at those things very differently. And I didn’t even add Silver’s or Michelle’s stuff–some of which she deleted.

    typical insensitive clueless molly-mormon behavior, and that writing you would do no good.

    Wow, was THAT kind?

    For starters, I am a middle child, 4th of 8 ?ward relief society president, where we tried very hard not to offend people.

    I’m the baby in my family, so I’m just spoiled rotten. You can blame my parents for that. And when I was the RS president I did my best to offend everyone right off the bat. Got that out of the way, so there were no surprises down the road.

    And, no, I don’t really subscribe to the other thing I learned in child psych 101. Saying, “She engaged in name-calling and harsh rhetoric” isn’t substantively different to me than, “She’s a harsh name-caller.” Really.

    Yes, I DO, actually and sincerely find sober, direct criticism MORE harsh then that which has OBVIOUS silliness included.

    If anyone, again, actually thought the Pepsi comment was SERIOUS, then I’m not sure what I can do. If I had said, “Was the author free-basing heroine ?” I could see offense. But, I thought most Mormons would get the thing about Pepsi because, well, what exactly IS a “Pepsi binge” supposed to produce?

    Alison must have been high on chocolate when she wrote this self-righteous drivel. In what sorority did she learn to sharpen her little claws? Tsk, tsk.

    First of all, I’d say equating my statement, which was:

    Was the author on a Pepsi binge when she watched conference? Tsk, tsk.

    to yours is a bit of a stretch.

    Second, is this supposed to make me mad or hurt my feelings? My answer would be, “Yea, I try to be buzz on chocolate whenever possible.” Not, “how dare you counter me, I’m in PAIN.”

    Alison, I am sorry that you think “your feelings are not being considered.” I said that I “very much appreciated the analysis” and praised your “strong arguments.:

    You misunderstand. I really don’t give a hoot about whether or not you consider my feelings. I’m not asking for praise or more of the child psych 101 (“make sure to mention all the positives before you lay into your kids”).

    I’m asking you to be EVEN-HANDED. And I don’t think you are. BECAUSE I don’t see all the labels and criticism of ME as being in a different realm altogether just because you don’t use sarcasm. I sincerely don’t. And, as I said, **I** find criticism with a bit of silliness and overstatment EASIER to swallow than, “Let me quote you a conference talk and three scriptures that shows you just how sinful you are.”

    I’m asking you (and Silver, etc.) to give me the same deference that you are asking for those who have created a movement against our leaders. I’m asking that you actually overlook the fact that I AM sometimes sarcastic and/or rude and/or unkind and/or mocking and/or fill-in-the-blank-with-my-bad-quality BECAUSE I might just actually be that way BECAUSE I’m in “pain.”

    The truth is, this kind of crap (a word I won’t let my kids use) makes me so mad I can hardly breathe. This very public, contradicting and bashing of our leaders, who do NOTHING but spend all their time and energy SERVING us and praying for us makes me furious. This kind of thing that bands people together in falsehood, that fuels fires of nothingness, that strengthens (and is supported by) those who HATE our church, that promotes apostasy sincerely causes me pain and anguish.

    And if you want to know the truth, this horrible, awful post is so incredibly toned down from what I FEEL, that you might actually applaud if you could see the contrast.

    And you might notice, too, that you will see this reaction from me particularly when I feel someone is being treated unjustly. I have a really good reason for why I do that, but I’m not ready to bore the world with it. Suffice it to say that I have seen first hand, very personally, how much harm dishonest rhetoric and careless impugning of character can do. And I’m not yet able to have the perfect, Christlike response to it.

    I have NEVER said being sarcastic is good. I have NEVER said that *I* am good. But I AM sarcastic, particularly when I get very angry–since it’s better than the alternative–and fixing that problem is, right now, pretty far down on my very long “Stuff that Alison needs to fix to be a decent person” list.

    And so, I’m asking that you either ignore me completely or that you allow me, once in a while, to vent on my own site when something really causes me pain–even if you don’t understand it all.

  • Oregonian January 4, 2008, 12:09 am

    83 new comments? wow.

    If you really want to be kind, why don’t you look at the hundreds of articles on here that aren’t sarcastic and get over it. I think its weird that people who have never been here just come to criticize and then never show up again. Dont they call that hit and run?

    I would have deleted those posts along time ago if it was my blog. I think A is more open than just about anywone in letting people criticise her. If you dont like it go read one of those blogs with perfect people on them. oh where would that be? I don’t know.

  • Oregonian January 4, 2008, 12:11 am

    >>To me there is a huge space between condoning an action and simply not judging it.>>

    not judging it? How do you not judge it? How do you know its bad if youdon’t judge it?

  • Oregonian January 4, 2008, 12:21 am

    >>I just don’t get why people think saying all sorts of bad things about someone is KIND just because they don’t include jokes in it.< <

    >>Like I said, in the south they can cut you down to the ground in the _nicest_ way with the prettiest words, a lilt in their voices, and a smile on their faces. That doesn’t make it nice or kind. Its just a way to practice being awful so that you can pretend its nice. <<

    That is what I was thinking too. I tried to read everything over thinking if it was said to me and I think the stuff on the board is meaner than the first post. It’s not even funny or laughing, its just “you did all this bad stuff” one of them even says basicaly that she was tough, course, rude, greedy, and vain. i think Id rather be on a pepsi binge than to be said Im like that.

    please tell me Silverrain and Naismith, would you rather be called the first list or be on a pepsi binge.

    I just dont get what you think at all. if you think you cant criticise then you should have come here and made some positive points and maybe said things about why you think the people said what they did or something. but to make a big deal about the tone and to be so harsh isnt right.

  • Oregonian January 4, 2008, 12:22 am

    sorry for the typos, my arms in a sling. don’t ask me.

  • spande2 January 4, 2008, 12:35 am

    I have a question or two:

    In what way does it strengthen other members to openly speak against the teachings of the General Relief Society President–especially when her teachings are absolutely consistent with what the prophets have taught for decades, if not centuries?

    How does it help strengthen the 13 children, Cheryl, and the 24 grandchildren, to know that their mother and grandmother is proud to call the GRP on the carpet? What about converts or people whose testimonies need strengthening?

    Does it really help them to know that others, who are “dedicated to the Gospel” and have sent out five missionaries, question the motives and authority of the leaders of the Church?

  • Alison Moore Smith January 4, 2008, 1:02 am

    Can you free-base heroine? I’m afraid I’m drug-challenged. Pepsi, however, I’m intimately familiar with.

    Thanks, gals. I do want to make sure everyone knows, however, that they are welcome here whether or not they agree with me. Smack me around a bit. It’s good for me.

  • SilverRain January 4, 2008, 4:59 am

    Naismith – would you email me when you get a chance? It’s silverwinged@hotmail.com. I have a question for you, if you’re interested.

  • Ray January 4, 2008, 6:05 am

    Those last two sentences, Alison, will not earn you brownie points from humor-challenged females. Thinking about their eyes bugging out of their heads when they read those sentences did make this male laugh, however. (Sorry for the sarcasm. I am trying to be more poor in spirit this month, and I’m not sure this comment contributed to that process.)

  • Lewis_Family January 4, 2008, 9:59 am

    So to clarify, one can only be clueless not act clueless? My mistake.

  • Ray January 4, 2008, 10:27 am

    See, sarcasm can work from both sides. :-)

  • John Dehlin January 4, 2008, 10:36 am

    (coming late to this discussion)

    As someone who supports the original “What women know” article — I also very much enjoy/support your commentary, Allison. Your voice is an important one in this conversation.

  • mimosa January 4, 2008, 11:48 am

    lewis_family, to be strictly grammatically correct, you’d need to say “act cluelessly” because then clueless is modifying a verb, not a noun, and adverbs usually have ly as a suffix. But since it’s slang, you can say act clueless if you want.

    John D. You’re not really thinking of quitting mormonstories are you? If you’ve got time to comment here, you’ve got time to keep it going. :)

  • Lewis_Family January 4, 2008, 5:28 pm

    Sorry, I don’t want this to turn into a tit for tat about grammar. The title of the discussion was “…Others who don’t have a clue” So I saw it as the verb form, not as a named called.

  • spitfire January 5, 2008, 6:13 pm

    Alison~

    After all the banter I have read, I just wanted to say THANK YOU!! Thank you for calling it the way it is, Thank you for being firm in your testimony of sustaining our leaders, Thank you for providing us with clarity and Thank you for being you; Pepsi, chocolate, whatever included…….

    THANK YOU!!!

  • Lisa June 18, 2012, 9:19 am

    well said!

    I think it was a wonderful talk and I love a good straight speaking kick up the bum talk…makes me try harder!

  • Amber September 30, 2012, 8:28 pm

    Talk about being late to the party :) But I just wanted to say that I agree with how you supported Sister Beck’s talk and discredited the naysayers. I was not too aware of online discussions when this talk was given and missed all this but I am shocked by some of the objections. I loved your declaration, too! So powerful.
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