Friday, March 07, 2008

Show some empathy and appreciation ...

Amand Mauss made suggestions in his excellent essay entitled Alternate Voices, which was a response to Elder Oaks' General Conference address by that same title (by the way, according to Mauss, Elder Oaks send a favorable reply to Mauss about his essay).
6. Be humble, generous, and good natured in tolerating ideas that you find aversive in other Church members, no matter how "reactionary." As "alternate voices," we cannot complain when we are ignored or misunderstood if we respond with contempt toward those whose ideas we deplore. Besides, if we have any hope of educating them, we have to start where they are and treat them with love and tolerance. No one is won over by being put down, especially in public. Whether in our writing or in our exchanges during Sunday School classes, we must try to be gracious as well as candid (difficult though it be on occasion) and always remember to show forth afterward "an increase of love toward him whom thou has reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy" (D&C 121:43).

7. Show some empathy and appreciation for Church leaders, male and female, from the general level down to the local ward and branch. Anyone who has ever held a responsible leadership position knows how heavy the burdens of office can be, especially in callings like bishop, Relief Society president, and stake president (to say nothing of apostle), in which the decisions made can affect countless numbers of people for good or ill. We may privately deplore the poor judgment, the unrighteous dominion, the insensitivity, and even the outright ignorance of some leaders. Yet, after all, they are, like us, simple mortals doing their best according to their lights. Some of them sacrifice a great deal for no apparent benefit, and all are entitled to our support, and occasionally our praise, whenever these can reasonably be given. When they do something outrageously wrong, they need our sympathy even more. "There but for the grace of God . . . " etc.

8. Do not say or do anything to undermine the influence or legitimacy of Church leaders at any level. They have their callings and prerogatives, and we should not step forth to "steady the ark" by publicly offering our alternative leadership. Please don't misunderstand: I am not advocating silent submission in the face of official stupidity. There is much that we can do without playing the role of usurper. When we write for publication, let us by all means criticize policies, practices, or interpretations of doctrine; but let us not personalize our criticisms with ad hominem attacks. They are not only discourteous and condescending, but quite unnecessary. ...
I've known some people who worked many, many unpaid hours to do work no one else could or would do (we were desperately looking for replacements and there were none to be found).

I fear that when I meet a bishop, my first emotion is often pity. I pray for mine with my family every night.


Anonymous said...

This was important for me to read. While I have tried to be very good in this regard, in indirect ways I have done what I should not. People probably knew what I was talking about in my wording. I want to make clear that I did not speak against any Apostles or General Authorities. And it was my personal experience that I was speaking about that is rather confusing even to me with so many different ways of viewing it.-Barb

Anonymous said...

In regards to alternate voices, I think Elder Oaks advice is very good. It sometimes seems like people are pushing them away more than helping them. I like to think of it this way. Faith is so precious that we should celebrate the faith that people are holding onto even if they have areas where we differ. As a member of the LDS Church, I do believe that one should strive to stay close to the center of the Church. I mean that seems to be the basis of being a good standing member with a temple recommend. I don't have a temple recommend as I don't make it to Church, but I hope someday to make it again or at least to hold onto what I have.

Also, I wanted to say as you have been so kind to let me vent in the past the following.. My home life has been so good as of late. I feel very blessed. The bad part of home life these days is me as I am a burden. Well, there are some other issues not related to my personal behavior. However, they are not of the type of abusive behavior that I vented about before. I feel safe. And at times when I did not feel safe here to some degree, I felt a lot safer being here than some of the possible alternatives as I fear living alone or with someone who might hurt me in a way that my father has never and would never hurt me unless he goes crazy or something. I hope that makes sense. He is a protector. I also wanted to make it clear that with all my dad's shortcomings through the years, that I do believe firmly that he loves me and his family deeply. His problems were related to mood disorders, in my opinion. I feel that lack of sleep and later diabetis were factors. He has been a good father in so many ways through the years. I know some people who have father's that do not show their love to their children or who have not sacrificed as mine has. Thanks again for making me feel free to express my thoughts. --Barb