Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Apostles Are Complicated People - Not Simplistic Caricatures: Elder Packer as an Example

I really like Boyd K. Packer - even though I don't agree with some of what he has said over the years. I like the fact that he stands up and says exactly what he believes - and, frankly, the controversial stuff overshadows a HUGE amount of really cool, liberating stuff he also has said.

I think a lot of people who dislike him would be shocked (or, one of my favorite words, flabbergasted) at a lot of what Pres. Packer has said over the years. He is characterized as an ultra-conservative extremist by many people who disagree with him about things like sexuality, but he isn't overall. Yes, he's said some really conservative things, but he also has said some of the most liberal things I've heard in General Conference in my lifetime - and I mean that.

I like him as much as I do because he reminds me of myself in one way:

I don't have a single "conservative" or "liberal" view of everything, so my writing is hard to classify properly with labels. It drives some people nuts who read my comments online, since they want to pigeon-hole and label me in some way. I'm pretty sure there will be people in the future who read my personal blog and everything I've written throughout the Bloggernacle who will wonder if there were two or more authors of it all - not just due to the volume, but also since sometimes they literally sound like they are coming from different people.

I'll share a specific example that still makes me shake my head.

There was a person who had been an official "follower" of this blog for a couple of years. He left comments praising much of my writing - and then I wrote a post about the Priesthood ban that he took to be attacking of the former church leadership. It wasn't, but that's how he read it. He wrote quite a mean-spirited comment about that post on another blog where the author had chastised me for writing my post - and I called him on it. He went on to call me an apostate who obviously was devoid of humility and the Spirit and vowed to un-subscribe from my blog - which he did. For a long time I was a faithful, insightful member who helped him a lot with what I wrote; suddenly, with no change whatsoever in me, I became a hard-hearted, deceived, dangerous opponent. 

I see a lot of that with Pres. Packer. Lots of people love him; lots of people hate him; very few people really look closely at everything he's said over the decades and see the complicated, rather balanced, "real" man. They jump on some things, ignore others and attack their constructed caricature - and I feel bad for him, having experienced it myself to a much lesser degree.


Dave said...

Not rhat familiar with Packer's past statements. Would you have the time to give a few examples of his left and right positions? It would make your article more understandable. Thanks and I appreciate your refusal to get locked into a"side". I find religion marching in lockstep with a particular ideology disturbing.

Clean Cut said...

I love this post. Reasoned and balanced thoughts here--and charitable. Above all things, CHARITY.

You've also reminded me of a related quote from L. Jackson Newell, who reflected on some comments Elder Oaks once made about criticizing church leaders:

"After further reflection, however, I do agree wholly with one of the points enunciated by Elder Oaks. We should not criticize Church authorities. Per­sonal attacks always diminish the dignity of individual and community life and are never appropriate in government, business, or religion. On the other hand, the respectful and constructive criticism of a leader's ideas or judgments is not only acceptable but necessary for healthy organizational life."

Papa D said...

Excellent quote, CC.

Dave, I'm not in a position right now to dig up multiple examples, but I remember clearly his statement in a worldwide training session (November 2011, I think) that the Church is meant to support families rather than families being meant to staff the Church. A number of years ago he said the same basic thing in the context of eliminating non-essential activities rather than over-burden families.

He also was a strong supporter of consolidating the Sunday meetings in order to maximize family time on the Sabbath.

Margaret Young said...

I think there's much we don't understand about Pres. Packer. He had a polio as a child, which is now re-visiting him. And he served in WWII. Very possibly suffered from PTSD, which might explain some of his tendencies to control things. "Judge tenderly."

Papa D said...

Amen, Margaret - and amen.