Conflicted Thoughts about Hyper-Righteousness

August 6, 2004 | 32 comments
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Over at Sons of Mosiah, Bob Caswell shares Bob Millet’s theory on why some members of the Church get so darn hyper about little things:

“Millett had another story of a relatively new member coming to him and asking if it was normal for a bishop to require no facial hair in order for a person to be worthy to receive a calling. Millett suggested that the person meet with his stake president. Well, this person did so only to find out that is was his stake president who instigated it! Millett posed the question: What does a person do in that situation? How do you tell a stake president he is wrong? It’s not that easy, especially not in Utah County.

Millett gave more examples of Utah County issues he’s dealt with and continued to explain that when a population in a certain area is more than 80 percent Mormon, hyper-righteousness tends to occur, which eventually translates into self-righteousness (just look at those emails he got [about seeing The Passion]!).

What’s my point with all this? Well, Millett only has a theory, but it is apparently a theory that “the brethren” seem to have as well (at least according to Millett). This may be second or third hand information, but I think there is enough of it to suggest that the term “Utah Mormon” is not without some strong support. It may not be a very accurate use of words. And “Utah County Mormon” might not be the best choice of words either. But I tend to believe Millett’s theory that a heavily concentrated group of Mormons would develop these characteristics more so than other Mormons who were the minority somewhere else. Ironically, for being a poor choice of words, we all seem to know whom we’re talking about when “Utah Mormon” comes up in a conversation.”

I don’t want to dispute this theory so much as offer another one (or two). Here’s my take: let’s say you are a recently-called stake president or bishop. I would imagine that your primary feeling is Fear of Messing Up Big Time. (This may be exacerbated if you live in Utah, where a billion other people in the ‘hood know exactly what you should and shouldn’t be doing, which would nicely link my theory to the one above.) So you vaguely remember hearing once, maybe while dozing during a talk, something about beards. And you think, the last thing I need is someone on my case in shock that I didn’t read the transcript of the 1984 West Valley Regional Meeting where a Seventy clearly stated that people with beards shouldn’t get callings. So, to play it safe, I am going to play it safe. So you take the most conservative path, figuring that no one takes rabble-rousing liberals seriously in the Church anyway, so you can’t lose.

However, and here is where the conflicted part comes in, some of the ‘ridiculous’ examples of Fake Rules mentioned at Sons of Mosiah seem rather, well, reasonable to me. One was a stake that banned all choirs from singing anything that wasn’t in the hymnal. Overlimiting, you say? For those of us made queasy by Mormon pop even when we aren’t pregnant, I think that overlimiting the choir to the hymnbook in order to avoid having to listen to that drivel in Church may in fact be a fair trade-off. Another one was an over-emphasis on modesty. Well, I dunno that you can overemphasize modesty with the YW. As a feminist, I have huge issues behind the attitude that the female body should be displayed as if goods for sale or lease. (While I doubt this is what motivates others . . . the point’s the same.)

So I guess the conflicted part is this: I worry that local Church leaders make knee-jerk conservative decisions to avoid flak. At the same time, when looking at concrete examples, those decisions don’t always seem so terrible when you consider what the alternative is.

Now, wouldn’t this all be so much easier if we made all of our decisions under the guidance of the Spirit and assumed that others did the same?

Post script–If you want to rehash the beard issue, The Passion, or modesty, please select the relevant thread.

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32 Responses to Conflicted Thoughts about Hyper-Righteousness

  1. Ivan Wolfe on August 7, 2004 at 1:13 am

    fixin’ the buggy bug

  2. Sheldon on August 7, 2004 at 1:40 am

    I see your point about playing it safe. But Christ didn’t play it safe when it came to denouncing hyper-obedience. He continually pushed the boundaries in order to teach lessons. He understood that apostasy can result just as much from extreme orthodoxy as unorthodoxy. I think when we question certain arbitrary “rules” that have crept in over time, we are actually doing Christ’s work. I find it interesting that he preached against hyper-obedience a lot more than he preached against the conventional sins.

    While I think your explanation is correct, its nice to see some guts from leaders in standing up to Brother Busybody. By the way, I agree with you on the examples you mentioned (especially about the sentimental LDS pop music), but the arbitrary rules I’m thinking of are often more subtle than that.

  3. John H on August 7, 2004 at 2:20 pm

    You may be right, Julie. And having never been in that position, I could never be certain how I’d act. But Church leaders who make decisions based on “playing it safe” kinda worry me.

    These aren’t just people making relatively unimportant decisions about the kind of music that’s allowed. They’re making decisions about how people can participate in the Church – and Church participation is one of the primary criteria for determining worthiness. So, if a bishop or stake president decides to “play it safe” by not letting someone who has facial hair get that calling, that really negatively affects the person denied the calling. Worse yet, what about all the horror stories most of us have probably heard about the Bishop who won’t let someone have a temple recommend because they drink Coke, or watch R rated movies, etc?

    No one’s saying it’s an easy job, but Church leaders aren’t just supposed to be managers over a flock, or protectors of who-knows-what obscure doctrine or statement by Elder Uptight of the 16th Quorum of the Seventy. They are supposed to be pastors of individual souls.

    Actually, I think the vast, vast majority of Church leaders are quite good at balancing all of their duties. So it probably isn’t fair to them to focus on the very few people who aren’t the greatest leaders. Of course we’ll hear about it when a Bishop or Stake President does something that’s a little extreme – those stories make great fodder for Sunstoners like me. But you won’t hear about it when a Bishop quietly works with a member who’s really struggling, or bends the rules a bit for another member who could use it, and so on. We’ve tried to highlight these instances in the Sunstone column, “Righteous Dominion.”

  4. Chris Grant on August 7, 2004 at 2:29 pm

    Millett posed the question: What does a person do in that situation? How do you tell a stake president he is wrong?

    Who said the stake president was wrong? As the presiding authority of the stake, is he not permitted to establish (within reason) rules that apply to his stake but not others?

    Bob Caswell wrote: ‘By the way, apparently of the 74 negative emails Millett received, almost all were from people in Utah. Could this have anything to do with the unpopular coined term “Utah Mormon”?

    Here’s a crazy idea: Maybe the fact that Millet–note the single “t”–made his comment in a Utah newspaper had something to do with his responses coming from Utah.

  5. Jack on August 7, 2004 at 2:58 pm

    So, Sunstone is now a self appointed quasi-superior judge. It judges the Judges of Israel by deciding upon which of their judgements are fit for the column of “righteous dominion” thereby relegating all others to the column of “unrighteous dominion”.

  6. ronin on August 7, 2004 at 4:52 pm

    Yes, such problems do occur, but thankfully, such instances of bad leadership are indeed rare

  7. Brian on August 7, 2004 at 7:01 pm

    My stake president recently declared that the sacrament shall only be passed in the chapel proper, and in the overflow seating in the gymnasium. Parents who are out in the foyer with their children will not receive the sacrament.

    His explanation was that the sacrament is sacred and the foyer lacks the reverence.

    What say you? An attempt at hyper-obedience or Sanhedrinist rule making? Or merely a stake president wishing to maintain the sacredness of the sacrament?

    As for facial hair- I have it! Yes, I grew a goatee and moustache with the express purpose of avoiding the possibility of a call to the Elders quorum presidency in my new ward. It seems to have worked! :-)

  8. Chad too on August 7, 2004 at 7:24 pm

    Don’t get too comfortable, Brian. The second counselor in my Bishopric has a mustache and a goatee. Watch your back ;-)

  9. Silus Grok on August 7, 2004 at 7:48 pm

    Brian: Not passing sacrament outside of the chapel (whether the chapel extends into an overflow area or not) is pretty much standard in my Stake… but to answer your question, I think that it’s perfectly acceptable, and not a case of over-extension.

    We’ve been told time and again that the sacrament is the most sacred ordinance we have… and in my opinion — and I don’t think I’m alone — it begins with the sacrament hymn and doesn’t end until the priesthood is invited to re-join the congregation. I’ve passed in wards that had the sacrament passed to folks waiting in the foyer and the negative consequences were several:

    • The practice encouraged folks to mill in the foyer (as there was no cost associated with milling), and when the sacrament was over, there would be a commotion as folks came in after the sacrament and tried to find a seat.
    • The foyer was an open area that folks could come in and out of, and so it was difficult to ascertain who _needed_ the sacrament… and oft times, people would come half-way through the sacrament and would expect the water only — half the ordinance!
    • The Bishop is meant to preside over the sacrament, and that’s not possible if part of the ordinance is taking place out of view.

    With that in mind, we can also look at what closing the doors and keeping the sacrament in the chapel:

    • It encourages folks to arrive on time for worship services
    • It encourages folks to stay seated (except as _needed_)
    • It helps the Bishop to preside properly over the ordinance
    • It brings more of the flock — regardless of their intent to take the sacrament — into the chapel during a time of focus meditation

    With ancillary actions/support from the pulpit, it could also:

    • Encourage fathers to share the burden of taking care of children during church (as mothers shouldn’t be expected to miss sacrament after sacrament)
    • Encourage us to live our lives such that missing the occasional sacrament isn’t catastrophic
  10. Ethesis (Stephen M) on August 7, 2004 at 8:28 pm

    These two posts just belonged with each other :)

    So, Sunstone is now a self appointed quasi-superior judge. It judges the Judges of Israel by deciding upon which of their judgements are fit for the column of “righteous dominion” thereby relegating all others to the column of “unrighteous dominion”.
    Comment by: Jack at August 7, 2004 02:58 PM Permanent Link

    Yes, such problems do occur, but thankfully, such instances of bad leadership are indeed rare

  11. Philocrites on August 7, 2004 at 8:46 pm

    Seems to me that if hyper-righteousness breaks out anytime a religious group gets above, oh, 70% of the population, then maybe it’s not a good idea for a religion to achieve supermajority status. That’s why I’m not too upset about my destiny in the terrestrial kingdom (if you all turn out to be right) or in post-rapture terra firma (if the premillenial fundamentalists turn out to be right). Give me pluralism or give me death, sayeth this goateed ex-Oremite!

  12. Maren on August 7, 2004 at 9:14 pm

    I am a little shocked about the sacrament passing rule. I do not have children, but have often helped my sister take care of hers in sacrament meeting. She has a son that suffered a lot from colic, and would cry a lot. There was not much we could do but let him cry, so we took turns taking him out. That way we would not have to miss the whole meeting. So, by doing a service to my sister, and allowing the congregation reverence, I would be denied the sacrament? I am glad this is not a rule in my sister’s stake. As for the other ideas shared, I often wonder if Christ would see in a lot of us the hypocrites and rule huggers of the original church.

  13. John H on August 7, 2004 at 9:40 pm

    “So, Sunstone is now a self appointed quasi-superior judge. It judges the Judges of Israel by deciding upon which of their judgements are fit for the column of “righteous dominion” thereby relegating all others to the column of “unrighteous dominion”.”

    Yeah Jack, that’s what I said. Once again we see that Sunstone is damned if they do, damned if they don’t. We publish something that doesn’t always shed a happy light on the Church, and we’re accused of being “warts and all” or focusing on negative things, or acting like a fringe group, or being just plain anti-Mormon. We publish something that highlights Church leaders who go out of their way and work hard to be good pastors over their flock, and now we’re just judgmental weenies, dictating from our positions as Supreme High Overlords of Mormonism what is acceptable and what isn’t.

    Of course Jack, I have no doubt that you’ve read these columns that I’m referring to, and are intimately familiar with them. You certainly wouldn’t post something so harsh and negative without being acquainted with what you’re criticizing – would you?

  14. Jack on August 8, 2004 at 1:12 am

    John H. : Shall we call it a draw right here and now as both of us have failed to be christian toward one another?

    I apologize for my harshness. I forget sometimes that I’m dealing with real people on the blog lines. I feel badly that I evolked such a pointed response from you. I think that most here would agree that your comments are generally very thoughtful and sensitive irrespective of orientation.

    That said, I can tell you from personal experience that you can’t circumnavigate criticism. (not to excuse my harshness) As a collaborator on theatrical productions, I have been thrashed up one side and down the other by critics – not just for the material in question, but for being the kind of person who could create such material. Believe me I know how deep it cuts. (for that reason alone I should have been more sensitive) Even so, shall I tell them that they can’t have their opinions? That such a thing isn’t allowed in this country?

    No, I haven’t read the particular column you speak of. But I have read enough from Sunstone to know that, unless there have been some radical changes within the last couple of months, it doesn’t resonate very well with me.

    Again, sorry for my harshness.

    But what the heck? This is Jack. The guy that doesn’t even have a high school diploma. There’s got to be at least one provincial snob around here who thinks he knows more than he really does.

  15. Bob Caswell on August 8, 2004 at 3:44 am

    Well, I have been gone for a few days and am now just getting into the action. I thank Julie for taking interest in my thoughts and do apologize for misspelling Millet’s name (I actually saw it both ways so many times in other online material that I just guessed… wrong).

    I have to say, however, that I’m disappointed in Chris Grant’s comment and feel the need to clarify a few things:

    First off, Chris quoted me from material not found on T&S, which suggests that he actually ventured over to my site. But interestingly enough, for quoting me out of context from my own site, he says the following:

    “Here’s a crazy idea: Maybe the fact that Millet–note the single “t”–made his comment in a Utah newspaper had something to do with his responses coming from Utah.”

    Three issues I have here:

    1) Thanks for pointing out something that we’ve already discussed on the thread. But maybe you read only enough to quote me. Not such a “crazy idea” if you actually read the rest of the post/comments, in which the idea is within a certain context.

    2) “note the single “t”” Nice authoritative touch, Chris, I’m sure you’re so much more convincing since you know how to spell a person’s name.

    3) You mentioned “his comment in a Utah newspaper”, which is outside of the scope of the discussion I was originally having with Millet. He mentioned nothing to me about a Utah newspaper, but rather was discussing comments he made on public television (and what would you say if I were to verify that there were indeed people outside of Utah who heard about / saw these comments made). Just wanted to clarify that you came up with the “Utah newspaper” bit on your own; it was never a part of the original discussion.

    Now I know that Julie did not intend this to be a “Bob defends himself” post. And I actually was hoping to have an interesting discussion with her so as to learn from her in a few areas where we might differ slightly.

    But before any of that was possible, I felt the need to point out some rather disappointing low blow attempts by Chris Grant.

  16. Logan on August 8, 2004 at 11:12 am

    Like Bob, I guess I feel like we are being portrayed by one small piece of the puzzle that is Sons of Mosiah. If anyone’s interested, here’s our standard post that I think fills out the picture about us on this particular issue. But I’ll say a few things.

    Julie, your theory about why people are “hyper-righteous” probably does hold true in some cases. When you say “decisions don’t always seem so terrible when you consider what the alternative is”, I’d agree that these decision probably aren’t necessarily “so terrible”, but on they other hand, sometimes they could be.

    For example, you say that you don’t think we can overemphasize modesty with YW, but my own inner feminist overwhelmingly disagrees. I think it’s very possible to focus so much on the “should be displayed” part of modesty that one can tacitly affirm that women’s bodies in fact ARE “goods for sale or lease”. I don’t mean to get too much into this discussion here (as you’ve requested we not do so), but I’m just saying that the same reasoning that leads to harmless “hyper-righteousness” can lead to harmful “hyper-righteousness” as well. It’s not that the reasoning is evil, or that the people who employ it are bad or anything like that. But I think we should still try to avoid it.

  17. Chris Grant on August 8, 2004 at 10:14 pm

    Bob Caswell wrote: ‘Chris quoted me . . . out of context’

    Yes, in the sense that all nontrivial quotes are tautologically out of context. I deny, however, that the excerpt I presented somehow misrepresents your overall statement.

    Bob continued: ‘Thanks for pointing out something that we’ve already discussed on the thread.’

    Oh, it was already discussed, eh? Did you end up retracting your assertion as a result of that discussion?

    Bob continued: ‘maybe you read only enough to quote me.’

    I read your complete post. I didn’t read comments to your post, or hyperlinks contained within comments to your post, or hyperlinks contained within hyperlinks contained within comments to your post, etc.

    Bob continued: ‘“note the single “t”” Nice authoritative touch, Chris’

    Not meant to be authoritative, merely corrective. It just seemed odd for someone to present a Q&A transcript with a chummy title like “Q&A between Bobs” and then proceed to misspell the interviewee’s name every single time.

    Bob continued: ‘You mentioned “his comment in a Utah newspaper”, which is outside of the scope of the discussion I was originally having with Millet.’

    Sorry. I was familiar with Millet’s statements in the Deseret News and didn’t notice that he claimed his email was in response to televised comments, instead.

    Bob continued: ‘what would you say if I were to verify that there were indeed people outside of Utah who heard about / saw these comments made’

    Rather than an existence proof, I’d be more interested in an estimate of the ratio between non-Utahns and Utahns who saw or read Millet’s remarks.

  18. Bob Caswell on August 9, 2004 at 12:46 am

    “Did you end up retracting your assertion as a result of that discussion?”

    Chris, if your goal is for me to retract an assertion I made, I’m afraid I must again point out that you’re commenting on the wrong thread. The assertion I made on my own site [that you quoted here] has little to do with the discussion Julie was hoping to start on this site. In other words, if you’d like to discuss this matter, I’d love to, but on the appropriate thread, not here.

    I said, “maybe you read only enough to quote me.” to which you replied, “I read your complete post. I didn’t read comments to your post…” Right, thanks for confirming what I originally said, you read only enough to quote me. The nice thing about blogs is the discussion that ensues after a topic is brought forth. You know, the ability of the author to clarify what he stated originally. You are hardly a participant in a discussion if you only read the post and ignore all the comments only to make accusations that have long since been discussed. Mix that in with commenting on some of my thoughts on the inappropriate thread, and you might see why I have an issue here.

    “…and then proceed to misspell the interviewee’s name every single time.”

    Because when people misspell a name, they make sure to do it only once within a given essay/post rather than have the audacity to do it “every single time”. But I do appreciate your “chummy title” etiquette suggestion. I’ll take it to heart in exchange for you taking into consideration my etiquette suggestions.

    But seriously, Chris, can we put this behind us? I would really like to be your friend here. I can’t tell what your intentions are due to the blog format. But I can say that every time I’ve engaged in a conversation with you, I’ve felt personally attacked, belittled, provoked, and frustrated. I’m not sure if you have something against me, but I would like to openly say that’s the impression you give. Could you help me understand your side?

  19. Ebenezer on August 9, 2004 at 5:00 am

    Now you’ve done it. This thread inspired me to start my own LDS Blog. My first few posts will include thoughts related to this issue. Hope you’ll all stop by and read. Maybe you’ll even add me to your blogrolls.

    Ebenezer Orthodoxy

  20. Geoff B on August 9, 2004 at 10:56 am

    Silus Grok makes some good points. Very often rules that seem silly have good logic behind them. It seems that the attitude adopted by the people who receive the rules is a relevant factor in how silly rules appear to be.

  21. Chris Grant on August 9, 2004 at 2:38 pm

    Bob Caswell wrote: ‘I said, “maybe you read only enough to quote me.” to which you replied, “I read your complete post. I didn’t read comments to your post…” Right, thanks for confirming what I originally said, you read only enough to quote me.’

    What I said does not confirm what you originally said. I could have read much less than your complete post and still have read enough to quote you.

    Bob continued: ‘The nice thing about blogs is the discussion that ensues after a topic is brought forth.’

    Says who? Some of my favorite blogs don’t permit comments, and many that do permit them have comment pages full of garbage (due, in part, to the ability to comment anonymously or pseudonymously).

  22. ronin on August 9, 2004 at 4:25 pm

    Chris G – what the h*** kind of a point are you trying to make?

  23. Jared on August 9, 2004 at 5:51 pm

    Chris seems to have taken offense to the notion that a stake president instituting a no-beards policy in his stake is always wrong, which Bob clearly stated in his post.

    Bob: you seem to attribute this belief to Milet. Did he really say that the stake president was wrong or are those your words?

  24. Bob Caswell on August 9, 2004 at 6:07 pm

    “Says who? Some of my favorite blogs don’t permit comments, and many that do permit them have comment pages full of garbage…”

    I’m afraid this seems like a double standard to me. Some of your favorite blogs don’t allow comments. This, of course, means that you can’t comment on what is said there. But on those that do allow comments, you seem to assume that they are mostly full of garbage only to comment yourself while ignoring what must be “garbage” only to find that perhaps what you’ve said has already been said within the “garbage”. But, interestingly enough, I’m giving you too much credit in this scenario because it assumes that you at least made the comment on the appropriate thread let alone the appropriate blog. Most people consider it a part of blog etiquette to read through comments [if they exist] before making bold accusations. Leaving bold accusations aside, most people consider it a part of blog etiquette to read others’ comments in exchange for having their own read. Leaving comment exchange aside, most people are not interested in what you have to say if your only interest in what they have to say is to further some quest of belittling them.

    But again, Chris, until you’re ready to step down from your put-Bob-in-his-place soapbox, I’m not sure where going to get very far. This isn’t a high school debate class. From what I understand of this site, it is a place where Mormons can gather to learn from each other, understand each other, and further better themselves. I may not understand your intentions, but if the purpose of your responses to my comments is to “one up” me, prove me wrong, or “out do” me, I think you may be in the wrong place.

    But there’s a good chance that I’m wrong. I am still interested in understanding you. I’ve told you twice now the impressions your comments seem to give off. But I ask again, what is your side? What are you trying to accomplish by responding to me? Help me out here.

  25. Bob Caswell on August 9, 2004 at 6:21 pm

    Jared, nice observation. Before I answer your question on word usage, I just wanted to put out that what you said “…a stake president instituting a no-beards policy…” isn’t quite the same as that which Millet said, “…no facial hair in order for a person to be worthy to receive a calling”. I apologize if that’s being too nitpicky. But I have issues with a stake president overstepping his bounds by creating “extra mile” requirements for worthiness. If “worthiness” were not involved, I probably wouldn’t have as much of an issue. But to me, it’s no different than the stake president saying that women should shave their legs in order to be “worthy” of callings. Especially on a local level, picking any arbitrary societal norm that hasn’t existed very long and making it a “worthiness” requirement has me worried.

    And to answer your question, I’m 90 percent sure those were Millet’s words. I recorded the talk and have transcribed much of it. I will double check if you like.

  26. Jared on August 9, 2004 at 6:40 pm

    Bob: I meant a no-beards policy for callings; sorry I should have been more specific.

  27. Chris Grant on August 9, 2004 at 7:09 pm

    Bob:

    [Label 1]

    1. I’m missing the “double standard” you allege to see. Yes, I claim that a lot of blog comments are garbage, and, yes, I do type blog comments myself. I also claim that there are a lot of bad drivers on the roads and yet I am myself a driver. Is that a double standard, too?
    2. Your claim that blog etiquette demands reading all comments on a blog entry before commenting oneself on a blog entry is news to me. How did you determine what “[m]ost people” feel on this issue?
    3. What am I trying to accomplish in responding to you? Well,
      1. My first response to you was in reply to a response from you to me. What I was trying to accomplish in that response was:
        • To assert that there was no reason that stereotyping Jews and Blacks should be analogous to Mormons but not to Utah Mormons.
        • To ask why stereotyping Utah Mormons is different from stereotyping Blacks and Jews.
        • To point out that, contrary to your implication, I was well aware that not all Mormons are from Utah.
    4. My second response to you was an attempt to clarify for you the analogy I was intending.
    5. My third response to you was to reiterate that I was drawing an analogy, and that I was not suggesting anything other than what that analogy suggests.
    6. My fourth response to you was to remind you who brought up the insider/outsider dichotomy and to talk a little set theory.
    7. My fifth response to you was to assert that an analogy is not an identity. If I liken a tenacious polemicist to Monty Python’s “Black Knight”, I am probably not asserting that said polemicist is a quadruple amputee.
    8. My sixth response to you was to point out that either you or Brother Millet appeared to be drawing some dubious conclusions based on the geographical origin of his emails.
    9. My seventh response to you was to:
      • Refute your charge of quoting you out of context.
      • Ask if you had retracted your assertion that you said had already been discussed.
      • Refute your suggestion that I had only read enough to quote you.
      • Explain why I had corrected your spelling.
      • Apologize for overlooking Dr. Millet’s reference to a television broadcast.
      • Explain why finding a handful of Mormons from outside Utah who watched a Utah television broadcast wouldn’t be terribly enlightening.
    10. My eighth response to you was to:
      • Refute your assertion that a contradiction was a confirmation.
      • Assert that your personal view about blogs is not universal.
    11. My ninth response to you was to assert [Go To Label 1]
  28. Bob Caswell on August 9, 2004 at 7:53 pm

    “I’m missing the “double standard” you allege to see. Yes, I claim that a lot of blog comments are garbage, and, yes, I do type blog comments myself. I also claim that there are a lot of bad drivers on the roads and yet I am myself a driver. Is that a double standard, too?”

    Yes, if you are a bad driver.

    “Your claim that blog etiquette demands reading all comments…”

    Just wanted to point out that “all” is your word, not mine. My impression is that you’re trying to emphatically [and incorrectly] restate what I am saying to make my opinion look silly.

    “How did you determine what “[m]ost people” feel on this issue?”

    I observe. Believe it or not, Chris, “most people” probably don’t have a statistical study to back up every observation they have made. I also think “most people” think murder is bad. But I haven’t handed out a survey or conducted a study.

    Chris, thanks for the summary of our blogging exchange. I have to ask, though, can we agree just once? Or can you make a joke or something? :-)

    Here are some opinions of mine:

    Cream cheese is one of the tastiest cheeses around.

    The Bourne Identity and the Bourne Supremacy were really good movies.

    New Zealand has a beautiful countryside.

    U2 has some good music.

    If possible, I’d like you to pick any one of my observations / opinions and simply “agree”. It would just make me feel so much better. I guess I’m still trying to figure out if it’s me you have a problem with or if we’re just talking about the wrong things.

  29. Chris Grant on August 9, 2004 at 8:27 pm

    Bob Caswell asserts: ‘Cream cheese is one of the tastiest cheeses around.’

    Well, top 20, perhaps.

    ‘The Bourne Identity and the Bourne Supremacy were really good movies.’

    I wouldn’t know.

    ‘New Zealand has a beautiful countryside.’

    I agree.

    ‘U2 has some good music.’

    From 1984 to about 1990, I was one of those who thought that listening to U2 was a religious experience. I don’t think so anymore, but I do agree that they have some good music.

  30. Bob Caswell on August 9, 2004 at 10:14 pm

    Thanks, Chris! I have to reiterate what you implied. That is, U2 had their best music (aka some good music) almost exclusively between the years you mentioned, ’84 to ’90.

  31. Ebenezer on August 10, 2004 at 12:07 pm

    At the advice of a reader, I would like to post a quote from my thoughts on this topic on my blog and provide a link for those interested:

    “Let’s look a little closer now at the dynamics of stewardship and its relationship to obedience within the church.

    What if priesthood authority asks you to do something that you feel is wrong? How do you tell a priesthood authority that he is wrong? To answer these questions we should distinguish, first of all, between the ways a priesthood leader may be wrong…”

    “…In the case where a bishop or stake president establishes a rule you find over-zealous, such as only extending callings to clean-shaven men, remember that he is in fact authorized to receive revelation concerning how his stake or ward is to be managed…”

    “…Unlicensed Dominion is a much bigger problem in the church than Unrighteous Dominion by bishops or higher authorities. Tolerance is increased by a strong respect for stewardship and authority and an dedication to obedience…”

    - from Stewardship & Obedience to Priesthood Authority Parts I and II
    Ebenezer Orthodoxy

  32. Geoff Matthews on August 11, 2004 at 1:08 am

    While I was living in Logan, my wife REALLY wanted another child, while I was less than committed. She arranged a meeting with the Bishop and she told him our situation. He told us that in regards to having children, it is up to the wife, and her decision rules.
    For the record, he stated some justification for this, but I don’t recall it. However, I didn’t get in a huff, but calmly (almost jovially) told him that I disagreed with him (I took the position that each of us held a veto). He didn’t get mad at me but simply said “That’s fine” and left it at that. We still got along, I still kept my calling (financial clerk) and in spite of this, I still like that man. In spite of this mistake, he’s a good guy.
    I think that too often we look for the flaws in others, particularly in instances like this. I have a beard (well, really a goatee now), and I don’t want to shave it (I’m really ugly). My wife asked me if I would if I were called to be a Bishop, and I said no. And I won’t. If I get hired by BYU, I will (if I really need a job, which I do right now), but other than that, I don’t understand the animosity towards neatly trimmed facial hair (and really, if someone is sporting a ZZ Top, aren’t we supposed to rise above our biases and look beyond that)?
    Incidentally, a couple of months after the talk with our Bishop, my wife was pregnant with our 3rd child. And when she had us talk to our Bishop about the 4th, he sided with my line of reasoning. Which only goes to show that it can be okay to disagree with church authorities IF you keep the proper attitude.