Friday, September 17, 2010

Every Member of the Church Should Read This Linked Post

MHA with Darius - Part 2 - Margaret Young (By Common Consent)


ji said...

There was too much vitriol and too many shrill voices for me go get any benefit from visiting that site. I hope other church members don't visit.

The past will always look ugly through the lens of our modern sensibilities. Let's look at today and the future, and look at the past when it serves a helpful purpose.

You know, one might compare this recent unpleasantness with the unpleasantness of the primitive church. The Lord Jesus Christ himself said the Gospel would go to the Jews first. Peter, James, John, and all the rest preached to Jews only, thinking the Gospel was too good for the gentile -- perhaps based on the example and teachings of the Savior himself, except in the case of a token exception (the story of the dogs under the table). When the time was right in the wisdom of the Lord, the Cornelius story happened. Peter and others had to work for years to teach the Jews that Gentiles were welcome.

Using the argument of the posting you referenced, we should denounce Peter and the rest, and even the Lord Jesus Christ himself, as racists -- we should hate them and apologize for them.

No, in my mind the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have done everything necessary and appropriate to teach correct principles. Let us listen to them, sustain them, and follow their counsel, rather than the counsel of the rabble at the referenced posting.

Papa D said...

ji, I think you misread Margaret. She loves the Church deeply and accepts and sustains all the Prophets as prophets of God - as do almost all of the commenters.

You said:

"Using the argument of the posting you referenced, we should denounce Peter and the rest, and even the Lord Jesus Christ himself, as racists -- we should hate them and apologize for them."

I know that's not at all how the people at BCC feel - and I know completely that it's not how Margaret feels. It certainly isn't how Darius feels.

I see the post as a wonderful example of a man, Brother Gray, who overcame tremendous discrimination from fellow members and held rock solid in his testimony. The final installment of Margaret's posts is a great example of that, and I hope you see that it's not about vitriol and hatred at all.

Perhaps that is easier for me to see since I know Margaret a little better than some. I admire Brother Gray as much as anyone I know, and I think it's important to understand more fully exactly what he and others like him endured in their faithful journeys within the Church.

ji said...

If a man is newly called as a Primary teacher, must he apologize for the errors or perceived errors of his predecessors in that office? No. Nor if a man is called as a bishop or stake president, or, if you will allow, as an Apostle or even President of the Church. When the predecessors are released, I hope to thank them for their service and continue to respect them as fellow pilgrims. Brigham Young has been released, and Mark E. Peterson has been released, and Bruce R. McConkie has been released. To whatever degree they said anything that is helpful to me today, I want to appreciate that contribution. To whatever degree they said something that is troubling or not understandable to me, I'll let that go.

Persons today who have hard feelings for Latter-day Saints in the past should forgive them. Words like "we'll need a bucket for people to throw up in" and "I am still feeling sick" indicate a need for forgiveness so that progression can continue.

Yes, individual Latter-day Saints in various circumstances and places have sometimes had difficult times. They can often tell their stories in meaningful ways, with a focus on building faith. But when others take their stories and use them to show contempt for fellow Latter-day Saints, in the guise of righteous indignation, I am saddened. Righteous indignation is almost never righteous, I read somewhere recently.

I prefer honoring and sustaining leaders at all levels, and members in general, today and in the past, and extending the benefit of the doubt wherever possible. If someone is an offender, and his offense impedes his ability to further the work of the Lord, he will be released from his calling someday. And then another person can approach the calling perhaps differently.

I do believe the leadership of the Church has done everything appropriate and necessary to teach correct principles regarding relationships between members.

Papa D said...

I actually agree with each of your points in the last comment, ji. I just think there is a huge difference between Margaret's approach (a deeply faithful historian trying to explain, as honestly and faithfully as possible, a part of our history that is very difficult for many to understand) and the comments of a few people on BCC.

As to specifics, it is important to realize that the "getting sick" and "throwing up" comments are NOT about anything the Prophets and apostles said; rather, they are about reading letters to the editor of the BYU newspaper (the Daily Universe) before the Priesthood ban was lifted. They are horrible, vicious, truly disgusting letters filled with extreme racist stereotypes and inflammatory wording.

Margaret's work is about understanding the past, learning from it and improving the present and future. This is true especially of "No Man Knows: The History of Black Mormons" - the movie she and Darius produced. It is faith-affirming, and it absolutely is not bitter or accusatory. It does, however, tackle the issue of racism head-on - mostly, in her words and in my own experience, because the same things that used to be said still are said by too many people (including members of the LDS Church). For example, the justifications used generally still are repeated by quite a few members, even though Elder McConkie himself said that they had spoken with limited light and knowledge about the issue and to "forget everything that we said" prior to the lifting of the ban.

Again, I agree with the basic points of your last comment, but Margaret's work doesn't constitute indignation, in my opinion - at least not toward former leaders. A continuation of former justifications in our own day, however, is something I would place in the category of being worthy of righteous indignation - although I don't think it's righteous indignation in most people who are not affected directly by it (including most of the commenters at BCC). For me, for example, it usually is extreme sadness and sorrow - and only occasionally indignation, when it is particularly egregious.

ji said...

Thanks -- I appreciate your thoughts.

Any student of history will realize that to whatever degree racism was a problem in Utah, it was a condition common to the society and not a creation or tool of leaders of any particular church in Utah. Almost certainly, any measure of racism would show likely equal amounts of racism in the church and non-church communities. Members of a church are also members of their larger societies, and are influenced by societal pressures and happenings.

I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1980 as a seventeen-year-old because of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I joined the body of believers because of my testimony. I do not accept the social baggage of Utah society as part of my inheritance, so to speak. I have never lived there. So I don't accept racism as part of "our" history, if "our" includes me or the Church. It might be "their" history, where "they" are "Utah residents in the 1950s or 1960s."

Moses wrote of the sins of the fathers affecting their children. But in later years, Ezekiel wrote otherwise. Ezekiel 18, the entire chapter, speaks to this change, but I'll quote only verses 19 and 20 here--

"Yet ye say, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickness of the wicked shall be upon him.". I don't know that the Lord will count the racism of some Utah residents and Church members in those years as sin, but even if he does, that sin cannot be imputed to Church members today or to the Church itself.

Papa D said...

Amen, ji. I wrote a post making the same basic point that the former attitudes and actions probably were inevitable and not sin, imo.

I am glad we had a chance to continue this conversation, especially since I think we agree much more than we disagree about the overall topic.