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MarginOfError last won the day on July 19

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About MarginOfError

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    Lord of the Gummi Snacks

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    So Mormon...You Don't Even Know.

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  1. MarginOfError

    Who has gone back to church at the building?

    I've been in the church building exactly twice since March. The first time was to help set up for a baptism back in June. The second was to do some administrative stuff yesterday afternoon. I've not attended any services. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like I will anytime in the near future. My social network consists of the following conditions A niece with no immune response (literally, when parents dropped off their kids in Primary with the sniffles, it wasn't uncommon for her to develop pneumonia within a week) A father with a hospital acquired, medication resistant infection (going to the hospital is a risky ordeal for him without the complications of a respiratory disease) Several Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA participants whose primary adults are their grandparents. We're trying to stay available to be the social outlet for my niece, because her social sphere is so restricted now, which means we have to be pretty careful about where we go and in what ways we interact with people. One of the choices we've made is that we will only participate in activities where masking is required and we can have a reasonable belief that attendees will adhere to best practices. Unfortunately, we have a handful of families that are avid anti-masker, don't-tread-on-my-freedoms type people. Despite the bishopric's best attempts to persuade them that masking up and keeping a little distance would be enough to help a non-insignificant number of people be able to attend, they just refuse. So we won't be going back, because I just can't trust that other members in my ward will have any concern for the health concerns of my family and scouts I am committed to serving. We'll go back when one of these three conditions is met The bishopric enforces masking expectations The CDC declares that preventative measures are no longer necessary The WHO declares the pandemic is over. I suspect that the both wards will be meeting in the building weekly long before any of those conditions are met. If I'm honest, I'm struggling with resentment. It's a new feeling for me. Not sure I like it.
  2. MarginOfError

    LDS view on Contraception

    The policy description under Birth Control was updated just a few weeks ago. The current policy is in the General Handbook, section 38.6.4 This does not represent a major change from the previous policy; with the only noticeable difference being that the previous policy explicitly encouraged members considering surgical sterilization to seek counsel from their priesthood leaders. The new policy implicitly removes priesthood leaders from the decision making process.
  3. MarginOfError

    who is the jerk, him or me?

    Sounds to me like both of you are being jerks. It's very rare that the tensions in a relationship are the fault of one person (and when it is, it's usually an abusive situation). Every relationship deals with these conflicts. Successful relationships talk about them, negotiate priorities, and come to compromises that minimize the tension for both parties. From the sound of it, the two of you prefer to ratchet tensions higher in the face of conflict. Start talking to each other more, and learn to say difficult things calmly and with compassion. Get hired help if struggle to do so (ie, marital therapy).
  4. I have committed a significant portion of my adult life to volunteering in community scout programs. One of my few frustrations with being in community troops was that I was ineligible for the LDS adult religious emblem, as it required participation in a Church (capital C) sponsored scouting unit. With the Church having disbanded scout units, a new religious award program has been introduced by the Vanguard International Scouting Association, which is an organization promoting faith-based scouting for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's taken me a couple of months to get started on this, but I'm starting now. There's a significant portion of journal writing associated with this award, and I have a tendency to lose journals. So I'm going to do my journaling here. Anyone who would like to come along for the journey, I'd be interested in knowing what you discover in the process. The award requirements can be read at: Building Faith and Testimony - Requirement 2 For various reasons, my mind has been preoccupied with thoughts of how to server everyone in my ward, not just those that are easy to serve. Because my mind is primed to think about these things, there were two phrases in The Living Christ that stood out to me Jesus taught "the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come" "I am your advocate with the Father." It struck me that in order to be an effective leader, I must see the potential of each individual, not just for what they are now, and not what they could offer to the ward in the future, but what they can become in the eternities. And I need to give them opportunities to develop and grow in accordance with that potential. When I have recognized that potential. I need to follow the example set by Jesus and be their advocate. I must look for ways to promote the best in them so that I can recommend them to God. And I must be careful not to put unnecessary obstacles in their way to achieving that potential. When I act as a servant of God, I must make Christ's priorities my own priorities. So my goal for the coming week is to pray daily to see the potential of certain members in my ward that I struggle to serve effectively. I will ask for God to help me see them as He sees them, and to guide me to be a better advocate for them.
  5. MarginOfError

    Liberals in the Church

    And then you have me, whose political positioning is best described as Socialist Libertarian. But I don't have a political party that represents my political beliefs.
  6. MarginOfError

    Liberals in the Church

    This would be a really interesting race to run. We'd need to agree to an endpoint that defines "failure of the state." I propose when citizens resort to cannibalism.
  7. MarginOfError

    Liberals in the Church

    It wasn't just you, but there were moments that if you had been in the same room I might have broken your nose. You've been better since I've returned to the group, as evidenced that I'm actually willing to engage in discussion with you. I won't claim I'm perfect, nor will I claim I've never acted with animosity towards others here. I've been learning a lot of patience. Apologies are probably in order toward you as well, and you may consider this my apology. Replying to Carb and scotty, I actually did take a three year or so hiatus from the forum beginning in 2015.
  8. MarginOfError

    Liberals in the Church

    I came to the realization that people join the Church because they develop a testimony. People stay in the Church because of their social connections. We can debate the merits of that ad nauseum, and I'll concede upfront that the covenants are more important than that. But I'm also a realist and a pragmatist. People who become socially disconnected from the Church are the highest risk for leaving the Church. And it takes a remarkably strong testimony to stick with it if you feel no social connection. I have dealt with people that insist that they are right and if you disagree you need to repent. It's toxic. It's especially toxic when people with this attitude utilize it within leadership positions. I'm certain my perception isn't flawed. There are certain positions in Church leadership that give you instant credibility. You're right that I've never seen someone just outright be kicked out. The process is much more subtle. It's the "you can't be a good member if...." or "I don't know how anyone that believes [whatever] can hold a temple recommend." It starts with the social bonds at church being poisoned. And when it's too socially uncomfortable to keep going back, exodus isn't far away. My rambling didn't do a good job of making that clear. I'm not going to dwell on much of that. That portion of the post was anecdotal, and the intent was to illustrate how quickly one's comfort level at church can change when leadership changes. I can tell you that I was not the only person who felt that shift. Perhaps it is an inappropriate swipe, but envision for a minute what going to Church would be like for me if Grunt were called as my bishop, based on his previous response in this thread. But tying it back, the reason it matters is that when people become socially disconnected, it becomes much more difficult to maintain their activity. I used to do that. It would typically stop the discussion on that day. But then it would end up coming up again. And the ultimate effect was that the conservative viewpoint was getting the last word. Many people interpret the last word as "having won the debate." (another absurd conclusion) I've found that offering the counter-view, especially when I've been in a position of authority, has done more to suppress the injection of politics into church discussions while making those in disagreement feel a little more comfortable. Theoretically, you're right. It should be enough. My pragmatism tends to get the better of me. That's out of the scope of this thread. Probably sounds like a dodge. I've personally heard people make such statements. It doesn't usually come along as "repent or get out," but more like, "if you think women should hold priesthood, you should go to another church." It poisons the social waters, which is a dangerous thing. And it shouldn't be tolerated. Again, a discussion out of the scope of of this thread. And one I won't engage in on open forums. Nothing (and I mean nothing) has been more toxic to my relationship with the Church than engaging in these topics on public forums on this site. If you really wish to discuss, I welcome you to send private messages. On the other hand, I've known plenty of conservatives that will attempt to shut down any conversation with appeals to statements of the Apostles in a way that practically assumes infallibility. On the whole, I'd say that very few in the church, conservative or liberal, have much of an idea of how doctrinal development can, will, or should take place. You will never, ever hear me claim that I am not a hypocrite. At best, I'm a self aware hypocrite. I actually admit to my hypocrisies somewhat regularly at church, specifically in the hope that others will call me out on them when I get out of line (and there are a handful of people in the ward that do, thankfully). I have a lot of repenting to do. I don't say that to excuse my behavior. I say it because I believe that willingness to admit it strengthens the bonds between myself and my fellow church-goers and makes repentance more likely to happen. So ultimately, I'll join you in denouncing any liberal who does anything to make a conservative less comfortable at church. It's unacceptable. I denounce my own hypocrisy. At the same time, I will stand in defense of any liberal who is under threat of social ostracism for their beliefs.
  9. MarginOfError

    Liberals in the Church

    I don't think this is a objectively verifiable statement. I will agree that there is a time and a place for such discussions. I was willing to do it in Institute, where I was teaching college age adults who were living in an environment that was somewhat hostile to their beliefs. It was a setting where it felt justified to move beyond the basics and introduce them to some of the challenges to their faith that they were likely to encounter at some point anyway. It seems a flawed line of reasoning to think you can't introduce and discuss challenging topics and alternative view points while also teaching the gospel and the teachings of the prophets. And again, choosing your setting is important. I don't go into Gospel Doctrine and make of asking hard questions. The audience is too varied to manage that discussion effectively. I also don't do it in Primary, nor would I do it in Seminary. (with a caveat of if student(s) ask the question themselves). In those settings, about the only time I bring up alternative viewpoints are when someone is pushing that one viewpoint is the only acceptable viewpoint. Usually, it's pushing a conservative viewpoint, but I've had to challenge some more liberal viewpoints as well.
  10. MarginOfError

    Texas: Contagion and Masks

    On top of that, even if having had the disease gives you any immunity against it, that only means that you are less likely to become ill. You are still perfectly capable of spreading the thing. If you have some immunity, the strength of the virus may be reduced, but humans don't have a natural immunity to this. Help protect those around you and wear a mask.
  11. MarginOfError

    Liberals in the Church

    I'm sorry I left you with the impression. It's actually quite the opposite. and like Mr. Shorty, I'm political liberalness is heavily informed by my religious beliefs. Which is kind of my point.
  12. MarginOfError

    Liberals in the Church

    I'm probably going to end up kicking up a hornet's nest here, and starting a fight I don't have the will power to finish. But this is an issue that strikes very close to home. Let's get some of the basics out up front. I am what pretty much everyone would consider a "liberal in the Church." I vote liberal politically, and a number of my personal beliefs with respect to our religion fall outside of the orthodox views. I have multiple friends that share many of these views that have left the Church. I also have multiple friends who share my views that have remained in the Church. The Personal Experiences (skip if you don't want to read the novel) The most succinct thing I can say about being a liberal in the Church is that the risk of social ostracism is very high. And the vast majority of my friends who have left the Church have done so more because of the social ostracism than because of a failing testimony. Perhaps the most keen example of this is a friend of mine who joined the Church as an adult convert while attending MIT. I name-drop the school primarily to give a perspective of this being a person who was intelligent, motivated, and capable. It's important to note that as an adult convert, many of her political opinions and preferences were fairly established before she joined the Church. She met and married her husband while in college, and they went to Utah for his medical residency. While in Utah, she was on the receiving end of a lot of subtle and some not-so-subtle reminders of "the role of women at home." Some people even outright asked her what was the point in her getting her Master's degree. She wasn't going to use it once she had kids anyway (spoiler, she wasn't able to have kids, not that it should matter). In fairness, I suspect the people perpetuating this nonsense were the minority, but it was enough to make participation at church uncomfortable. After about 15 years and a few moves, they ended up settling in New England. Her Relief Society presidency took it upon themselves to cure her of all of her liberal political beliefs. Their approach: asking her to teach lessons on "the evils of abortion," and "the evils of same sex marriage." They were overt in their intentions that if she would just prepare a lesson on the subject, she would start to see things the Correct Way (TM). She eventually stopped going to church because she was tired of being a target and a pet project. So let me make this clear: It is a real challenge to attend Church and be spiritually fed when you're wondering when the next attack is going to come. From my own experience, I have been exceptionally lucky. Coming off of a mission and entering college, I was about as straight laced and orthodox as a person can be. Believe it or not, at the time, I would have been considered a biblical literalist. My course of studies led me to start questioning some of the assumptions behind my beliefs. I had incredibly supportive family and bishops that encouraged me to explore and study these questions. They discussed issues with me. And while they were free with their own opinions--that often differed from the ones I was developing--they never told me that I couldn't disagree with them. I was also very lucky to be called into semi-prominent positions of service early on. But that can be a crap shoot for liberal Mormons. In the first ward I attended after finishing college, there was no scout troop. I chose to volunteer with a community based troop because I wanted to do something valuable with all the free time I had come into (I had been studying 12-14 hours a day for months leading up to my thesis defense). About two months later, the bishop of that ward asked me to comment on a plan he was devising to have the young men of three wards in the area meet once a month as a troop, once a month as patrols (in separate buildings) and then the other two weeks would be non-scout oriented activities. I suspect he was trying to ease into calling me to help run the program. Instead, I excoriated his idea, and said if he was going to run a scout troop, he should commit to it. But running half a program wasn't going to be of any benefit to anyone. He hardly ever spoke to me after that (but that vision of a scout program never developed). A few months later, he was released. The new bishop chose to retain the same two counselors who had been privy to my review of the scout troop idea. Apparently, those two had more appreciation for my willingness to offer criticism and honest feedback, and soon after I was called to be the ward clerk. And honestly, that calling as clerk is probably the reason I have been able to remain comfortable in the Church and be as liberal as I am. Because whatever bizzarro, unorthodox, or out-of-the-mainstream ideas I was spitting on any given day, I always had implicit status of "worthy" because I was in that inner leadership circle. I missed church about once a month to go lead scout activities. Any chance I could get to Church, I would, but it usually meant I showed up in grungy -- sometimes smelly -- camping clothes. And while I knew there were people that questioned whether I was keeping the Sabbath holy, no one ever questioned the strength of my testimony or worthiness because I held a semi-prominent position. That's an absurd conclusion, and I won't defend it. But nonetheless, I was challenged less for my unorthodox beliefs because of the leadership position I held. That changed soon after I was released as the clerk in that ward. The sequence of events occurred as such. First, I asked to be released so that my spouse could continue to serve as Young Women president after our second child was born. We just couldn't handle both being on the ward council at the time. A few months later, Brother X moved into the ward. And then a few months later, Brother X became Bishop X. Bishop X had no history with me, and was a very different kind of bishop than the one I had clerked for. At one point, I made a statement about gender discrepant language in the temple ceremonies, trying to illustrate and explain to people why that bothers some people in the Church. I got called in to meet with the bishop where he threatened to take my temple recommend away for violating my covenants to not reveal what happens in the temple. I had to argue with him that nothing I had said violated any sort of covenant, and if he'd be more comfortable understanding why I believed that, perhaps we should go to the temple and have a discussion about it in a setting that he was comfortable discussing it. He didn't accept the invitation. He also didn't pull my temple recommend, but I was very clearly on the outs with him. For the rest of the time he was bishop, Church was hard, because there were regular instances where my commitment to my faith was challenged because of the things I believed. It wasn't just me, either. Most of the liberal leaning members, especially women, would describe discomfort with Church activities because there were consistent swipes at the illegitimacy of liberal beliefs. One of the more amusing stories from that time frame was during the run up to the 2012 election. The ward ran a listserv for members to e-mail play date invitations, or list furniture they were selling/throwing out. One day, an e-mail came across asking for support for a Romney campaign something-or-other. I sent an e-mail to the bishopric expressing my discomfort with political activities taking place over a listserv for the ward. The response was pretty dismissive. They didn't see any problem with it. So I promptly sent an e-mail out over the listserv asking if anyone was interested in purchasing a "Mormons for Obama" bumper sticker. I'd place the order and pay the shipping, and so anyone that wanted one just needed to pay for the sticker. Almost immediately, a notice was put out that political discussions were not appropriate on the listserv. Antagonizing the bishop like that probably didn't help my cause, but it was totally worth it. Blessedly, Bishop X wasn't bishop very long. 18 months and then took a job overseas. Although I didn't hold any prominent callings under the new bishop, he was a lot more accepting of divergent viewpoints himself, and it started to be much more comfortable to be at church again. When I moved to my current ward, a little more than five years ago, I was almost immediately called to be a clerk. I've also taught Gospel Principles and Institute in that time. And again, being in that semi-prominent position has come with the side benefit that very few people question my commitment to my faith, regardless of how crazy any of the things I say are. Again, I've been blessed with great bishops (I'm on my third in this ward) and a good stake president. I've had at least two sets of missionaries complain about some of the things I've taught in Institute*. The bishops and stake president have always been backed me up and said that me offering challenging questions or alternate interpretations isn't a problem if I'm trying to genuinely help the students explore their faith and develop a familiarity with receiving their own revelation. But here's that catch. While it has been great the past five years, I get really anxious when a new bishop is being called. Even though I've had bishops that are supportive, I can name a few men in the ward that, if they were to become bishop, would probably make church very uncomfortable for me. Being an election year, we're currently dealing with heightened political feelings, and there have been some instances of members saying "you can't be a member in good standing and support abortion." When you get those kinds of statements coming from people in leadership positions. And here's the thing: it's completely unnecessary. * every Institute class I taught started with a disclaimer that I am very much exploring the content, and ideas I spout off on any given night may or may not be good ideas. And anything that I believe today may be something I don't believe five years from now. I've always tried to encourage the ability to safely explore and learn over dictating what I perceive to be true. For the most, it seems to have worked, as my students never seemed to be uncomfortable saying "I disagree with you." I Guess This is My Thesis (yeah yeah, it should be near the top) The Atonement of Jesus Christ is apolitical (probably a liberal idea, but I stand by it). The teachings of the Church should likewise be apolitical. Repent of your sins and come unto Christ. There is extremely wide latitude for political and social disagreement within that spectrum. There is extremely wise latitude for disagreement in how we interpret scripture and the guidance from our prophets. I do not consider homogeneity and conformity of thought a virtue in the Church (also probably a liberal idea, but I stand by it). Unity and disagreement are not mutually exclusive. And so I try (and sometimes fail) to respect opinions and ideas from members that I disagree with. More often than not, I want them to feel comfortable saying what the believe, and if possible, why they believe it. I have things to learn from them, and we are a better community when we understand and accept each other, regardless of the things we disagree or agree on. Regarding Liberals Attempting to Change the Church I believe firmly that there is room for questioning some of the things we purport to believe. I even more firmly believe that there is room to question some of our practices. But I also believe that those questions should follow a process of study, discussion, and prayer. I would be considered a liberal mormon, because I support the idea of allowing women to hold priesthood. But I don't support that idea because "EQUALITY." I honestly just can't see any reason they don't other than "because we never have." I know there are other arguments, but I don't find them compelling (and I'm not willing to discuss it in this thread**). Importantly though, I have reached this position after years of careful consideration. Changes to the church should not be made simply to fit the popular social issues of the time. So even as a liberal mormon, I hold that conservative approach. But that doesn't mean the Church can't or shouldn't change. It can and it should. And it will. Sometimes in ways that I favor, and sometimes in ways that I don't. ** I've spent too much time on this subject as it is, and if I don't get two weeks of work done before the end of next week, I won't be able to go to Scout Camp. Regarding Conservatives Attempting to Change the Church This is one that we should be wary of as well. As I mentioned before, taking stances like "No one can be a member in good standing and support abortion" is an attempt to change the Church into a homogeneous thought pool. The message that comes across is "Repent or get out." Those kinds of attitudes need to be rooted out in the Church. It's Genuinely Harder to Be Liberal in the Church That it is to be Conservative I'm just going to state this as fact. In the 20th century, Mormon culture took a hard conservative turn that intermingled with political conservatism. As political tensions increase, the fact that there are more conservatives in the Church will inherently make it more hostile to liberals in the Church. As far as doctrinal conservatism vs doctrinal liberalism, conservatives will typically be more hostile to liberals than liberals will be to conservatives. I'm excluding from this discussion elitist jerks that are convinced that if you don't agree with them, then you're a blithering idiot. But we have to understand that doctrinal liberalism is an existential threat to doctrinal conservatism. For example, if you are a biblical literalist, evolution is a direct route to atheism. On the other hand, doctrinal conservatism is merely an annoyance to doctrinal liberalism. Those facing an existential threat will always react more aggressively. As Liberals Gain More Influence in the Church, They Must Wield Their Influence Responsibly And this is hard to do. We often want to call into leadership people who agree with us, or who are like minded. But we cannot afford to do that. It would be a tragedy of incomprehensible magnitude for liberals to wield their influence to turn ostracism onto conservatives in the way we have felt it. Church is a place to be uplifted. And I struggle with this one. A lot. There are an unspecified number of individuals in my ward that are very conservative. And when we consider leadership openings, I regularly find myself advocating against calling them. I've often had to take several days to try and sort out if my advocacy is legitimate or born out of my own biases. I've been lucky so far in that any time one of these individuals has come up as a possibility, the bishopric is generally unanimous in choosing not to call them. But I still feel great discomfort at the possibility that I may be excluding people in the way that I felt excluded in times past. I've definitely lost track of where I was going with all of this. But let me just close by saying that we need to be very careful pitting "liberal" vs. "conservative." We cannot afford to allow ourselves to become opponents. We are on the same team and need to learn to work as a team.
  13. MarginOfError

    BoM Is Abolitionist

    So it's this noble
  14. MarginOfError

    BoM Is Abolitionist

    I can get that. Fortunately, the movement seems to be making strides there, and we're kind of the bleeding edge of developing the language to talk about it. I've really only noticed anti-racist come into the mainstream vernacular this year. Kendi's book on the matter was published in August of 2019. And he, in particular, is also trying to separate the problem as not being an issue of bad people, but of bad policy. Again, I think you'll find a lot of value in that approach.
  15. MarginOfError

    BoM Is Abolitionist

    Well played. Although I think you're still caught on words, not on message. I've tried to demonstrate that those people that are saying it seriously have more nuance to it than those people saying it sarcastically. Clearly, I've failed to articulate that.