The Smell of Tobacco in Church

July 19, 2006 | 89 comments
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On the whole, I am in favor of the smell of tobacco in church, but it is a tricky question. The smell of tobacco is always a good sign, because it indicates that someone beyond the edges of Mormon orthodoxy has entered the chapel in search of God and community. This is a great thing. Indeed, this is one of the reasons that we have the church at all. Hence, as a member I feel a duty and desire to make the person feel welcome and at home. On the other hand, the church must mean something beyond happy acceptance if it is to fulfill its mission. The difference between Christ and Oprah or some other apostle of pop-psychological perfect acceptance is that Christ wants us to change. He loves us, but he also calls us to repentance and preaches righteousness. I want the sinner to be welcome in the church, but I don’t want welcome to become complacency with sin.

In the cosmic scheme of things, of course, tobacco is an extremely minor vice, and I’ve no doubt that our chapels are filled with sinners who do greater evils that simply have no public aroma. (I certainly fall into this category.) Yet in some sense, this makes question more difficult. At least the smell of tobacco signals that I should avoid (or perhaps make) a jeremiad against violating the Word of Wisdom. For most sins the issue is murkier. The church needs to be a place that genuinely welcomes and invites in sinners, without patronizing or infantalizing them. At the same time, if the church has nothing to say about sin, we might as well shut the door or at the very least be honest about its transformation into a social club.

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89 Responses to The Smell of Tobacco in Church

  1. Frank McIntyre on July 19, 2006 at 10:20 am

    Next post: “The Salvific Properties of Social Clubs”

    In general, we are urged to preach from the scriptures, which are chock full of charitable cries to repent and come unto Christ.

    In specific, I suppose one listens to the promptings of the spirit and hopes to do the right thing for each case as it comes.

  2. Wilfried on July 19, 2006 at 10:27 am

    Difficult issue, Nate. But at the heart of our endeavors. Christ used both approaches: chastising without holding back the money changers and hypocrites, while at the same showing mercy and understanding for sinners who came to him. He looked at the heart: those willing to come and listen, even if still weak, were felt welcome. I presume there were many of them that still needed time to repent and change. How to help those on that path without losing them again by too severe reprimands is a major issue. And also, when can we say that something is such an “extremely minor vice” that we shouldn’t pay so much attention to it?

  3. Adam Greenwood on July 19, 2006 at 10:38 am

    Amen to all of that, Nate Oman, especially to the part about my sins stinking in heaven but being odorless in the chapel.

    I tend to be real forgiving of the tobacco smoke folk. Most of them I’ve known are old or down-and-out, so there’s no real chance that they’re example is going to lure the young and impressionable. And they aren’t smoking to be rebels and they’re not proud of it. Usually they’re either trying to quit or have tried before and have given up. Usually I admire them. Their failed fight has made them humble.

  4. David H. Sundwall on July 19, 2006 at 10:40 am

    This reminds me of a long lost quote that I have been looking for. I believe I read that President Kimball said something to the effect that the sweetest smell he he ever experienced was that of tobacco in a sacrament meeting for the same reason Nate describes above. I thought it was in his son’s first biography but searches there or anywhere have been unsuccessful. I don’t want to spread apocryphal quotes but it has been a powerful statement for me.

  5. Doc on July 19, 2006 at 10:59 am

    Nate,
    great post. I would love to have more of the odor of tobacco and less of the odor of self righteousness in our chapels. Those I have met who battle with nicotine addiction and yet are still yearning for a relationship with God are truly full of humility and wonderful to behold. Typically, they also are intensely aware of their shortcomings. I have a hard time imagining that changing, or the stigma or tobacco odor leaving very easily. I just don’t see in todays society, as more and more evidence comes out about the harm of secondhand smoke, that anyone is going to say, “Hey I smoke and I am okay with it. It’s no big sin.”

    For this reason, I think we would be making much progress to have the odor of tobacco more in our meetings. That line of social club and embracing of smoking seems rather far off to me, personally.

  6. MikeInWeHo on July 19, 2006 at 11:05 am

    Oprah wants us to change, too, just in different ways and for different reasons. What would The Church of Oprah Winfrey of Latter-Day Saints be like, anyway? Oops, threadjack…sorry. Seems to me the issue here isn’t whether or not the Church would ever “have nothing to say about sin,” but rather: to what extent should the Church enforce its morality on the membership via ecclesiastic discipline, social approbation, etc? There’s the rub. The Buckley Jeppson case comes to mind.

  7. Lamonte on July 19, 2006 at 11:11 am

    In my experience we don’t spend enough time heralding the blessings of the atonement and reminding each other that we are all sinners, in one way or another, and each of is seeking perfection in our less than perfect lives. For some it might be tobacco, for others it is learning to be more forgiving (my biggest shortfall), and so on. I have seen new members driven away because the talk at church is a seeming belief by some that they have conquered all vices or faults and that is the standard of a church member. I don’t really think any of us believes that but some give that impression. The poor newcomer, whether recent convert or less active, now returned, looks at conquering that standard as a hopeless exercise. When we stand in humility and recognize our dependence on the Savior – saying the words outloud – we are strengthening our own testimony and, most likely, that of another.

    And as is almost always the case with Nate’s posts, I learned a new word today (jeremiad) – although I can’t see myself using it anytime soon.

  8. Nate Oman on July 19, 2006 at 11:25 am

    Nope, Mike, I’m affraid that you have missed the point of the post. The question is not about the extent of legitimate “enforcement of morality.” The question is how one as a member of the church sensitively handles the issue of welcoming sinners while remaining alive to the reality of sin.

  9. Proud Daughter of Eve on July 19, 2006 at 11:45 am

    Nate, my objection to tobacco smoke in church has more to do with its cancer-inducing properties than with the smell. It is not an extremely minor vice it is slow death for the partakers and those around them. To that end, smoking in all public buildings and other enclosed enviroments ought to be outlawed. Yes we ought to treat others with kindness and respect but given the proven dangers of smoking it’s not “merely” a question of morality.

  10. Adam Greenwood on July 19, 2006 at 11:48 am

    PDOE,

    Nate O. is talking about people who smell of smoke, not people smoking in church. I don’t think anyone is advocating that, nor have I ever seen anyone try it.

    In any case, the dangers of second-hand smoke are exaggerated, and the dangers of smelling tobacco on someone’s clothes (this isn’t even secondhand smoke) are non-existent.

  11. jimbob on July 19, 2006 at 11:50 am

    I wonder if we’d feel the same if we knew the person wasn’t addicted to tabacco, and could stop at any time. How does that factor into the analysis?

  12. Kaimi on July 19, 2006 at 11:55 am

    Nate’s post dovetails well with Brandie S.’s wonderful post from a few years back, on a very similar topic: http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=1482 .

  13. B. Dylan on July 19, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    Good question. While there are certainly authorities within the Church (say, bishops) that are required to judge, most of us are commanded to forgive and love and ignore the motes of ALL who are willing to give the gospel a try–no matter how far along the path they are (or aren’t). Unless I’m called and authorized to cut off someone’s welfare check or deny someone’s temple recommend, I’m obligated to to “forbid them not,” whether with my words or with my actions (see 3 Nephi 18:22-25).

  14. Dave on July 19, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    Nice post, Nate. I’m struck by the contrast between how often we repeat “judge not” and the story about forgiving the one who sins against you seventy times seven — yet how often we behave as if the first commandment is “Judge thy neighbor.” It’s as if the lessons from the pulpit aren’t a guide to what we believe and practice, but instead are more an indicator of where we are failing.

    If people adopted the social club mentality, they would not be concerned much about the behavior of their fellow church members. So the “judge your neighbor” approach seems linked to rejecting the social club approach. There must be some sort of tolerant but disciplined middle ground that combines the better features of both approaches, it’s just not a natural condition. People gravitate to the extremes, neither one of which is particularly attractive.

  15. Russell Arben Fox on July 19, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    I realize that it drove some people batty, but Nate’s post reminds me of Amri’s. Specifically, that post’s original question about how we ought to think various commandments in relation to church participation, and whether any “ranking” is possible. Nate mentions smelling tobacco in church; what about a whiff of alcohol, or tea stains on the teeth? What about a female investigator sporting a bare midriff and shorts week after week? What about an unmarried, living-in-sin couple, holding hands (or their children?) in a pew? I agree with Doc that differences between becoming just a social club and embracing occasional smokers in the pews seems rather clear, but with some other commandments it might not be (and I certainly don’t have any easy answers).

    Still, my gut instinct is that these questions of “ranking” or tolerating are, as Nate says, “tricky” exactly because, for most upper and middle-class American Mormons, “someone beyond the edges of Mormon orthodoxy” enters our chapes “in search of God and community” fairly rarely. If it were more common–if there was, for example, at any one time multiple worshipers in any given ward that smelled of tobacco, or were in visibly heterodox relationships, or just didn’t look like the majority–then responding to whatever the spirit dictates as appropriate would be easier. In my experience, usually when some poor, unprepared soul wanders into a chapel with the smell of beer on him, or sporting a nose ring, or showing off her cleavage, their usual fate is to either be meanly ignored or overwhelmed with attention (and again, I’ve certainly contributed to both reactions at different times). Mormons like myself should perhaps be regularly obliged to tend poorer, more international, more multicultural, more heterodox, more marginal church units–not in the name of some sort of “justice,” but simply so that I can get a little bit more practice in dealing with unorthodox and potential Saints than I (and, I suspect, most others like me) generally get.

  16. Russell Arben Fox on July 19, 2006 at 12:11 pm

    Kaimi, thanks for the reminder of Brandi Siegfried’s old post. That was a beautiful piece of writing, and completely on-topic.

  17. Dan Richards on July 19, 2006 at 1:06 pm

    RAF–

    The female investigator sporting a bare midriff and shorts is more akin to somebody lighting up a cigarette during sacrament meeting. The smell of tobacco on the clothing is lingering (circumstantial!) evidence of a sin committed outside the walls of the church, rather than an inappropriate action in the presence of others. As has been previously mentioned, if common sins like gossip, pornography, or abuse left a lingering scent, our meetings would either be much more sparely attended or much more fragrant.

    In general, I think only three sets of people have cause to take any action if they routinely smell smoke on a person’s clothing in church (or otherwise become aware that the person is engaging in a specific sin): 1) the full-time missionaries teaching the person, if an investigator; 2) the person’s home or visiting teachers, if a member; and 3) the bishop. The full-time missionaries should be sure that the person understands the commandments and challenge them to obey. The home and visiting teachers should find out about the person’s circumstances and offer encouragement and support. The bishop is a judge in Israel and must ascertain the person’s worthiness. Everybody else has no stewardship, and needs to ignore the smell, put their arms around the person, and welcome them as befits a brother or sister.

    There may be situations where a member should alert one of the above stewards if he or she becomes aware of serious sin on the part of a person. For instance, if you notice that the investigator sitting next to the full-time missionaries is actually Jimmy “the Butcher” Palducci, you ought to make sure they are aware of his past before he is baptized, and that the appropriate clearances are received. If you see the ward clerk staggering out of Moe’s Tavern with his arm around a scantily clad woman, you might be justified in making a discrete mention of it to the bishop. But otherwise, I think that the general membership needs to suppress the urge to shun those who don’t give the appearance of orthodoxy. Of course, if you’re asked to give a talk or lesson on the Word of Wisdom, you don’t need to pull any punches just because you know Brother X struggles with a certain addiction (although sensitivity is not synonymous with pulling punches). But you don’t need to take upon yourself the duty of ensuring that the Church is not too complacent with sin–labor in your own stewardship and convey love and acceptance to all you encounter.

  18. Nate Oman on July 19, 2006 at 1:24 pm

    RAF: You make a good point. When Heather and I attended the Little Rock Ward, the ward boundaries covered much of the city of Little Rock, which took in relatively affluent neighborhoods as well as much poorer neighborhoods. As a result, there was a fair amount of socio-economic diversity among both members and those who strayed in or were braught as investigators. When we moved to Northern Virginia, in contrast, our ward covered a smaller geographic area and had a lot less socio-economic diversity. One of the results is that we smelled less tobacco and saw fewer bare midriffs, etc.. There is this odd dynamic where by as the Church becomes more well established the geographic reach of units shrinks, and with that comes increased socio-economic homogeneity.

  19. Johnny on July 19, 2006 at 1:31 pm

    I think a stronger emphasis on grace could mediate the tension between inclusion and the need for transformation. A discourse that prioritized the universal need for grace as well as the role of grace in transformation (i.e. enabling power as stated in LDS bible dict.) might serve both purposes. Focusing on our constant need for grace and forgiveness might lessen our need to judge the sins of others. Yet, it can also create a hope and expectation of transformation.

    I would also add the tension between the need to denounce sin and the need to include sinners is made worse by focusing on primarily on “personal� sins. There are no purely personal sins, but when I hear the words “sin� or “morality� I think of things like breaking the word of wisdom and not excluding others. I think if “judging others� was put on par with smoking then this tension might be mitigated.

  20. Russell Arben Fox on July 19, 2006 at 1:40 pm

    Dan,

    “The female investigator sporting a bare midriff and shorts is more akin to somebody lighting up a cigarette during sacrament meeting.”

    I would agree if it was a continuing behavior–say three or four weeks in a row. Otherwise, it could be anything from “the missionaries haven’t gotten around to mentioning that yet” to “they just moved and it’s the middle of summer and all of their Sunday clothes are still in boxes.” (This, I think, is also relevant to judging the dress of others in most contexts; it’s only when we see a pattern that we can fairly judge whether someone has learned or is resisting a norm regarding “appropriate action in the presence of others.”)

    “Everybody else has no stewardship….”

    I don’t think this is quite true; we are all called to judge righteous judgment. However, given how difficult it often is to be confident in one’s own or anyone else’s judgment, especially when you’re dealing with a newcomer, or with an unexpected situation (bumping into someone outside a bar, being confronted with someone dressed immodestly at a party, etc.), I agree that complete acceptance in the moment, and falling back on the channels the church has set up when possible, is probably often the best course of action.

  21. Russell Arben Fox on July 19, 2006 at 1:45 pm

    “There is this odd dynamic where by as the Church becomes more well established the geographic reach of units shrinks, and with that comes increased socio-economic homogeneity.”

    Right. I suppose someone who was so inclined (and had the math skills) could probably come up with some sort of formula to determine the maximum outreach capability on any given church unit, in regards to acceptance of the sort we’re discussing here, by drawing on these factors. A small, struggling branch just can’t attract that many people, because it lacks the resources; but on the other hand, a huge, well-established ward, with great resources, nonetheless inevitably becomes constrained in the number and sort of people it can appeal to.

  22. MikeInWeHo on July 19, 2006 at 1:47 pm

    re: 8 Got it. But if someone who looks or smells sinful is generally “meanly ignored or overwhelmed with attention,” isn’t that de facto (maybe unconscious) moral enforcement by the community? Certainly the various factors all result in a high level of social conformity among the LDS. From an outsider’s perspective Mormons are strikingly conformist, certainly more so than the Evangelicals. No opinion on whether that’s good or bad; it’s just an observation.

  23. John Remy on July 19, 2006 at 2:19 pm

    How much does the smell of smoke on someone’s clothes tell us? Do they smoke? Or is it their friends or family or coworkers? Did they borrow a friend’s work shirt so that they could dress appropriately for Church? (In my starving student days, I wore the same blazer to church and to my restaurant Maitr’ D job, and it sometimes smelled of smoke.) There’s too much we don’t know.

    There’s a brother in our ward (former bishopric member) who gently criticizes men who come to church without a tie. Some of these men are ones who were only recently reactivated or who are struggling with issues of testimony, authority, or conformity. This criticism doesn’t seem compassionate or particularly helpful.

    I think that the more visible “sins” really serve more as social boundary markers for Mormons than as indicators of personal rightness with God. Many of these public transgressions rank low in the hierarchy of God’s laws and have a social effect that outweighs their evilness quotient. How many cheaters, thieves, liars, adulterers, child/spouse abusers sit in the pews with us each Sunday? It’s easier to point out those who you saw not wearing their garments, or walking out of a sexy R-rated movie, or carrying a Starbucks cup.

    I really like Johnny’s comment (#19). We need more emphasis on grace. We need to be more generous and compassionate with others. We may loosen some of the clear boundaries that make us Mormon, but maybe we would trade that for a more Christ-based community. Maybe I don’t understand the concept well enough, but within the context of the Atonement isn’t the prophet just as far from God as the less active guy who’s still trying to shake the nicotine addiction?

  24. Silver on July 19, 2006 at 2:40 pm

    I’m so enjoying this discussion! I grew up around smokers (father and older sister), and briefly–less than two years–tested out smoking on my own as an older teen. As a reformed smoker, I find myself as adamantly opposed to smoking as any among the ranks of the reformed, yet it is easy for me to separate the smoker from the act of smoking. My dearly beloved family members, including those smokers still living and those who have passed, lets me feel the humanity, and not zero in on the sin. I was actually still smoking and not LDS when I first dated my husband, and thirty years later, am more than appreciative that he could see through the smoke.

    My favorite comments so far, among the many to choose from:

    5 I would love to have more of the odor of tobacco and less of the odor of self righteousness in our chapels.

    7 In my experience we don’t spend enough time heralding the blessings of the atonement and reminding each other that we are all sinners, in one way or another, and each of is seeking perfection in our less than perfect lives.

    23 I think that the more visible “sins� really serve more as social boundary markers for Mormons than as indicators of personal rightness with God.

    Silver, drinking in the wisdom

  25. Nate Oman on July 19, 2006 at 3:12 pm

    John: I’m less convinced than you that the conundrum can be eliminated by down grading something from sin to social marker, and then leaning hard on grace. I certainly think that there is a lot of truth to the claim that much of what Mormons tend to pick out as sinful is simply a social cue. (Although I also think that social cues are very important, and we gratuitously denigrate them at our peril.) On the other hand, I do think that there is such a thing as sin, which can alienate one from an institution that preaches relentlessly against it. On the other hand, I happen to think that preaching against sin is one of the reasons that we have have the Church.

    As for grace, I fear that I have a healthy Pelagian streak in me that makes me cautious about calls for grace, particularlly of the cheap variety that is often peddled in the name of social inclusiveness. At the end of the day, I think that Mormons can and should do a much better job of social inclusiveness. I think that a bit less clannishness and phariseeism would be welcome. On the other hand, I don’t think that every attempt to preach righteousness, even bumbling and sometimes counterproductive attempts, is evidence of a deadened and legalistic faith.

    I WANT to be preached at when I go to Church. (See the bit at the end of the post about my evangelical envy.) That is one of the reasons that I go…

  26. Blain on July 19, 2006 at 3:51 pm

    I’m thinking it might help if we put up a sign in front of the pulpit that said “You are not a Judge in Israel.” And then announce periodically that only Judges in Israel need to worry about the worthiness of anybody other than themselves and their minor children.

    Although it’s interesting that my interactions with Judges in Israel has been a great deal more charitable in dealing with real sins I’ve committed (charitable towards me without being at all wussy about the sins themselves) than the would-be Judges elsewhere in the wards who are working not only without any spiritual guidance about the nature of my sins, but a great deal less information which is a great deal less reliable than that available to the Judges in Israel do.

    A couple days ago I was finishing up cleaning out the Church Building after a function I was responsible for, and I ran into a sister in the ward who had been talking to the bishop with her husband and she came out crying. We chatted for a while, and then her husband came out having been crying and invited her back in. I’m not a total dolt (not that I can’t pretend to be surprisingly well) so I can figure that there’s probably something pretty serious going on in their family. I could conjecture about what it is, and I could gossip with other people about it, but what I chose to do was to leave them a note letting them know that I care, along with some of the left-over flowers from the activity so it could brighten their day a bit (and leave me one less thing of flowers that I couldn’t really take in my car anyway).

    This isn’t rocket science, and it doesn’t really require heavy lifting. We just have to accept that we aren’t that important, and that other people don’t have to live their lives to suit us. There isn’t one commandment that says that we need to beat people up until they behave properly, but there’s a big one that says that we’re to love them.

    I have the instinctive “what are you doing here like that” when I see folks come into Sacrament Meeting in t-shirts, jeans, etc. I still find myself uncomfortable around those who smell of smoke. That’s my problem. But I have a choice as to whether I go with the instinct and act like a jerk, or whether I reach out to them, introduce myself, and try to be a friend. I don’t have to love what they do to love them, any more than my Bishops or the Savior have had to love what I do to love me. We are not our behaviors.

  27. Adam Greenwood on July 19, 2006 at 4:00 pm

    No one in particular:

    I’m all in favor of embracing folks who walk into church with the smell of smoke on ‘em, but do we have to be so sanctimonious and pleased with ourselves about it?

  28. bbell on July 19, 2006 at 4:13 pm

    Um Adam.

    Its because it differentiates the poster as superior over the strawman TBM people in their wards that chase out of the building with a pitchfork those that smell of smoke.

  29. Christian Y. Cardall on July 19, 2006 at 4:19 pm

    One workable approach to loving the sinner and hating the sin would be to try to keep a distinction between official and unofficial discourse in mind even within the Church building. Rail against sinful practices relentlessly in the formal contexts of talks and lessons addressed to all; set aside talk of individuals’ sins in personal encounters at the doorway, in the hallway, between meetings, etc., showing instead a spirit of love and welcome on a personal level.

  30. CS Eric on July 19, 2006 at 4:36 pm

    One of the things I found so refreshing when we started attending our new ward was the relative variety of people in it. Sure, we\’re mostly white middle-class, but there were several active sisters (including one who was recently called as a YW adviser) whose dress clearly showed they weren\’t wearing garments. There are tattoos and multiple piercings scattered throughout the chapel, and nobody seems to be shown the cold shoulder because of it. That was a breath of fresh air, leaving the heavily conformist area we had be living in.

    Blain (#26), it is good you don\’t spread comments about that crying couple. My wife and I have had those visits, and, yes, they have been over something serious in our marriage–we both have promises in our patriarchal blessings promising children, and all we have to show is a series of miscarriages followed by a complete hysterectomy. I\’m not sure what people may have thought, not knowing the circumstances.

  31. Adam Greenwood on July 19, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    What a relief it is that people don’t wear garments.

    The Saints embracing each other despite all having faults is a good thing, though really no cause for being smug. But the faults themselves are no cause for celebration. It is good that Sister Y comes to church even though she smokes. But it would be better for her if she could get free of it. It is good that Brother Z comes even though he is unable to go to the temple. It would be better for him if he could.

  32. Costanza on July 19, 2006 at 5:37 pm

    “It’s easier to point out those who you saw not wearing their garments.” I dare say it might be easy to point that out, but a bit trickier explaining just how you came to see them not wearing their garments : )

  33. mullingandmusing (m&m) on July 19, 2006 at 5:42 pm

    I think it’s important to remember that sometimes someone may not be embraced not because they are being judged or shunned, but because people want to reach out but are worried about doing it “the wrong way.” I have heard people who have lost a loved one be treated the same way (avoided because no one knows what to say). In declaring that we shouldn’t judge, we should be careful not to judge those whom we say are being inappropriately.

  34. mullingandmusing (m&m) on July 19, 2006 at 6:12 pm

    p.s. I think sometimes that it would be good if we could all wear our sins in a visible way — might that help us be more willing and ready to repent on one hand, and less judgmental of each other on the other hand…knowing that we all struggle? The concept of confessing shows up in teh scriptures, but doesn’t show up much in our lives, except with serious sin. Not that I advocate changing things in reality, but I think it’s interesting to muse over…would there be a benefit to having our sins visible…sort of the sick-people-in-the-hospital kind of thing? Sorry … probably a threadjack….

  35. Adam Greenwood on July 19, 2006 at 6:22 pm

    I think lots of people will find it a relief to have their sins shouted from the rooftops.

  36. Hans on July 19, 2006 at 6:38 pm

    I grew up in a part-member family in the SF Bay Area. Dad was a Norwegian Lutheran so I was used to the smell of coffee in the morning (Norskies brew it strong so they can jumpstart their hearts). He also smoked. Fortunately he joined the church shortly after my baptism, gave up cigarettes and switched to Sanka. I still like the smell of fresh-brewed coffee.

  37. mullingandmusing (m&m) on July 19, 2006 at 7:18 pm

    35
    Adam, I figured I would be misunderstood on that. I realize that practically speaking it’s not so good, but theoretically, if we were all in the same boat…. Nevermind, it’s not worth pursuing. I’ve just been thinking about repentance lately and about how trying to pretend we don’t have sins (which sometimes we do — we put on our good face to go to church) doesn’t help us much in way of true repentance. That’s all.

  38. Eric Russell on July 19, 2006 at 7:22 pm

    Being pesky, judgmental, or cold towards others because of their sins is quite obviously wrong. But if someone you care about starts breaking their covenants or hurting themselves physically or spiritually, and in response you completely ignore it and act like you really just don’t give a damn, are you really loving your neighbor as yourself? It’s rather ironic that ultra-tolerance is always poised in terms of Christ-like love. I never figured Christ was that apathetic.

  39. mullingandmusing (m&m) on July 19, 2006 at 7:32 pm

    38
    Thanks, Eric…this is another idea I had wanted to express…that caring about someone else’s choices isn’t always judgmental or nosey…often it’s out of concern.

  40. Adam Greenwood on July 19, 2006 at 7:45 pm

    M&M,

    My comment #35–I meant it. I’ll be relieved. So will lots of others.

  41. Julie M. Smith on July 19, 2006 at 8:36 pm

    I’m trying to imagine what it would feel like to sit through a lesson on . . . um, whatever the opposite of being lazy is . . . while holding a sign saying “I am lazy.” It seems that immodesty and smoking are the only sins (are there others I am missing?) that are obvious in the chapel. Brandie got it spot-on in that post.

  42. Bored in Vernal on July 19, 2006 at 9:40 pm

    Have you ever noticed that members are often loving and tolerant to investigators or the less active who are struggling with certain issues, while they are extremely judgemental the more active you are? Maybe it’s true that the faithful “should know better,” but cut them some slack, too.

    My teen daughters, while not paragons of virtue, attend all meetings, YW activities, earn YW recognition, hold presidency callings, read their scriptures and live the commandments. But members feel extremely free to chastise them on what they are wearing. One Sunday a middle-aged woman asked me to please take my daughter home to change, because her neckline was too low. This was a shirt that I had approved before she left the house. My girls are often told by someone who has no business speaking to them that the dress is too short, too tight, etc. If only that member knew what agony went into choosing something that was affordable _and_ modest _and_ stylish _and_ fit right!

    I observe frequently that those 10 people who do everything in the ward are observed and criticized far more than that inactive person who shows up with cigarette smoke on his/her clothes.

    That said, we _do_ need reminders, preaching, and help to improve. Posts #17 and #29 are give suggestions on how to do this. Is there anything else we can to to encourage transformation? In my view, criticism and most preaching rarely instigate change.

  43. Clair on July 19, 2006 at 10:02 pm

    Something I haven’t seen mentioned yet is that, for most members, church attendance is about more than attending church. Most of the adults will also have a calling or two or more. The callings available to a smoker are limited (at least somewhat – maybe someone can give more information about that).

    In that sense, a smoker sitting in church is different from most others as are the single brothers and sisters in a family ward or branch. That is something for the more typical member to keep in mind in our interactions with them. A group of members chatting about their callings, lessons taught, students, etc., might be an uncomfortable place for someone not eligible for that service.

  44. Matt Thurston on July 19, 2006 at 10:19 pm

    You use “social club” as a pejorative term.

    (Frankly, I wonder how many active members currently view the church as a social club? As my Bishop once said in answer to a fellow Brother who was pooh-poohing the importance of punch-n-cookies at an upcoming Ward Social, “Hey, don’t underestimate the importance of punch-n-cookies. 90% of the Church IS punch-n-cookies!”)

    Still, were the church to retreat a little (not entirely abandon) some of its black-and-white truth claims (including its laundry list of “sins”), would such a “social club” be any less spiritually fullfilling for its members? I’m sure most of you would answer, “Yes, it would be less fulfilling,” but I’m struck by the tenor of the vast majority of testimonies I hear every Fast Sunday: most testimonies, most spiritual experiences have more to do with fellowship/interaction between Ward Brothers and Sisters than they have to do with the claims of the Gospel. (Yes, at the end of most testimonies, many rehearse their belief in the standard claims, that they “know” such-and-such “is true”, but most (not all) such statements seem to be delivered more by way of form than substance… the “meat” of their testimonies almost always has something to do with “fellowship”.)

    So my unanswerable question is this: Do Mormons derive more spirituality/fellowship/love/etc. from membership in their church (NOT a “social club”!), than members of other “social clubs”, like, say my local Orange County Chapter of “Bikers For Jesus?”

    Does the belief/knowledge that — we have the Priesthood, we have the Truth — result in an unqualifiedly different spiritual experience than the members of social clubs who don’t have the Priesthood and Truth?

  45. mullingandmusing (m&m) on July 19, 2006 at 10:49 pm

    Matt,
    I imagine this varies from ward to ward. But clearly our leaders are concerned about this as well…I think I recall a talk not long ago about that very thing.

    If the belief that we have the truth doesn’t create a different spiritual experience than social clubs, then we clearly don’t get it. :)

  46. Larry on July 20, 2006 at 12:22 am

    It\’s been a little over thirty-one years since I last saw my father, neat in his new gray suit and new wire-rimmed glasses, as he lay in the coffin in which he would be buried the following day. He was not in his temple clothing, for he had none, having never successfully conquered his addictions to nicotine and alcohol long enough to qualify for a temple recommend. Of course, I knew nothing of temple clothing and temple recommends at the time. I was nine years old, my mother was non-LDS, and what I did know was how much I missed my dad, and how much the kindness of my dad’s bishop meant to me, both his loving words and his strong spiritual presence.

    You see, my dad, whatever his faults, was a faithful member. His inability to overcome the cravings for tobacco and alcohol never stopped him from attending church morning and evening (this was before the 3-hour block). I was only permitted to go with him once, but I will never forget his delight on that rare occasion when my mother relented and allowed me to go–how proud he was of me, showing me off to everyone and ever-so-solemnly passing me the paper cup of water and the bread when it was time for the sacrament. Nor can I forget the arguments he had with my mother over tithing, with him insisting on its necessity and my mother firmly declaring, “we are NOT going to tithe to the church, and that’s that.”

    My point is this: there is often more going on than you know. While I am sure there were some who avoided my father, smelling the Marlboros and the Budweiser and shying away, there were many who treated him with love and kindness and who extended that to me. My own path has been a circuitous one, but the memory of that love and kindness has stayed with me. My wife and I are in the process of coming back to Christianity, and deep in my heart of hearts I know there’s only one church where I feel truly at home. Next month, we will be at the open house for the Sacramento Temple–our third temple open house, by the way–and I can’t shake the feeling that I need to go through the temple for myself, for real. If my father’s ward had been less accepting of him, tobacco smoke smell and all, I don’t think I would be feeling those feelings. As it is, I am eternally grateful to those Saints who saw the man behind the smoke.

  47. APJ on July 20, 2006 at 12:23 am

    Julie (comment 41): the other sin I can think of is visible tattoos.

    bbell (#28): i don’t know what planet you live on, but spending a couple years in salt lake made it more than obvious to me that MANY people do not go to church because they feel like they will be judged by their vices (like smoking, drinking, etc), as opposed to their hearts. This includes both non-members who may be investigators and inactive members. If I may be so bold, I can only assume you do not smoke, do not drink, do not wear immodest clothing, and do not have any visible tattoos. And, probably do not have a beard. Which, according to my anecdotal evidence, would make sense, since you don’t mind assuming people’s (as in people with those vices) discomfort is the result of ‘strawmen TBM’s,’ as opposed to any actual, potentially legitimate, concerns. If you do smoke, drink, wear immodest clothing, or have visible tattoos, or have a beard, then you are the exception to my anecdotal evidence.

    As to the original post, basically, what I think is that ‘tone’ is important. I think that if someone talks to a ‘smoker’ about ‘smoking’ in the right tone, it can be well recepted (same as if one decries ‘dishonesty’ to a ‘dishonest’ person in the right tone, it is usually well-recepted). But the problem is that Mormons have a tendency to use the right ‘tone’ when it comes to things like dishonesty (because, hey, we’re all a little guilty of this one, right?, so why really make a big point of it; not to mention, as many have pointed out, it doesn’t smell), but outright lambast things like drinking or smoking because *most* Mormons don’t have problems with those particular vices. In other words, people who are dishonest (or whatever other non-smelly sin you want to name) will always feel more welcome than smokers in our chapels, because not only is it odorless, but it also is something more universally practiced, and therefore somewhat more ‘forgiveable’, than smoking.

  48. It's Not Me on July 20, 2006 at 12:48 am

    I agree with Adam in #31. This is a difficult issue for many people. I do want people to come and be among us, especially if they are “struggling” spiritually. I also want them (and me) to improve and not be complacent with just being there. Now, to confess a weakness: I look at the “not wearing garments” crowd a little differently, because they’ve been through the temple, and are presumably more spiritually mature than others. In other words, they should know better. I know this is judgmental (I’m just being honest here), and that I should probably view all “sinners” with the exact same degree of love. I’m still working on it.

  49. Clair on July 20, 2006 at 1:53 am

    Larry, thank you for posting your story. It reminds me that the way we treat people can make a difference for generations. I had not thought that for a while. It is good to be reminded.

  50. Clair on July 20, 2006 at 1:53 am

    Larry, thank you for posting your story (46). It reminds me that the way we treat people can make a difference for generations. I had not thought that for a while. It is good to be reminded.

  51. MLU on July 20, 2006 at 4:00 am

    I’ve spent the last couple of years learning to live with diabetes, which has involved learning a tremendous amount about eating and nutrition and completely changing my dietary practices. The changes were much more difficult than quitting smoking, which I also did a few years ago. I’ve thought about the Word of Wisdom quite a lot.

    One of the things I think is that the lines that are drawn now–no tobacco, no coffee, no alcohol–are crude approximations of the true law. Just something to get us started down a long road to perfection. My diet now comes far, far closer to that suggested in the Word of Wisdom–heavy on fruits and vegetables, very sparing of meat, very modest portions–and since I no longer take a bite of anything without thinking about whether it is what I ought to be eating at the moment–or whether I ought to be eating anything at the moment–I’ve become quite conscious of the dietary practices of the saints around me. I’d say there are lots and lots of temple-recommend-holding-Word-of-Wisdom-keepers who have all sorts of struggles in their future to bring their lives into harmony with the truths the Word of Wisdom points toward.

    Heavy, sedentary folks would do well to contemplate their own weaknesses rather than indulging feelings of righteous in comparison to the guy with Marlboro on his breath. And Prozac popping seekers of chemical release from unpleasant moods needn’t feel too certain that they have transcended the failings of caffeine addicts. Those millions who wonder why they keep snacking in the evenings, in spite of evidence from the bathroom scales that things are not as they should be, should find it easy to feel some kinship with the poor soul who can’t find peace until he gets the accustomed level of nicotine in his blood.

    What do we do about our struggling brothers and sisters? Sometimes we nudge. Sometimes we suggest. Sometimes we just quietly commiserate. Sometimes we get it wrong and then ponder and repent.

    The Word of Wisdom remains a challenge for many–perhaps most–of us.

  52. Mark Butler on July 20, 2006 at 4:07 am

    Matt (#44), Most practical social clubs are founded on quasi-religious principles. The way I see it, is there is no essential paradox here – the kingdom of heaven is the one true social club – a society founded upon righteous principles – a society of friends and citizens of the Saints.

    Some have tried to down play the social aspect of the gospel, and very often with fatal results – the gospel is not just about our relationship with God, it is about our relationship with our brothers and sisters. How can we love them if we don’t even know them?

  53. MLU on July 20, 2006 at 4:11 am

    By the way, during the years when I was a smoker it seemed that in general Mormons were more tolerant and willing to overlook my failings than many people in the “world.” I thought about the observation of C. S. Lewis–people who are trying to perfect themselves know all about temptation and tend to be more forgiving of the weaknesses of the flesh than people who readily submit to temptations. It’s the people who stand up against the wind who know how ferocious it can be.

    When I look around me, I see all sorts of people who are slowly destroying themselves with all sorts of bad practices, of which smoking is only one. The question, “What can we do to help?” should be in our thoughts often.

  54. Dan Y. on July 20, 2006 at 9:45 am

    Regarding obvious sins (#41): declining to take the sacrament week after week is likely to be interpreted as evidence of sin in general if not of a specific sin — it is also (possibly noisy) evidence of the ‘severity’ of the sin. I should hasten to add that I don’t endorse using this evidence to draw a conclusion in any particular case — there might a more innocent explanations for someone repeatedly declining the sacrament (e.g., wheat allergies) and even if there weren’t any other explanation, I don’t think any good would come of trying to judge.

    Regarding tattoos (#47): I know the Brethren think tattoos are a bad idea, but are they really considered to be sinful?

    Regarding the “not wearing garments” crowd (#48): Determining which members of my ward have been to the temple and which haven’t is something I doubt I could do with 100% accuracy. Do you have any advice in that regard?

  55. annegb on July 20, 2006 at 10:35 am

    We all go to church as sinners. Most of our sins don’t stink, but they are there.

    I don’t even think smoking is a sin. It’s not good for you, but it’s not a sin like lying about your neighbor.

    I consider this a non-issue and none of my business. Now my other neighbor, who annoys us all with her social ineptness (if that’s a word), I might have to smack her one of these days.

  56. Raul on July 20, 2006 at 10:55 am

    “The smell of tobacco is always a good sign, because it indicates that someone beyond the edges of Mormon orthodoxy has entered the chapel in search of God and community”

    Uh, wouldn’t this only be a good thing is someone was moving towards joining the church and not a member moving away? Guess you wouldn’t know just by a smell in the chapel. Wouldn’t want to jump to conclusions now would we.

  57. Raul on July 20, 2006 at 11:01 am

    I just asked my wife what she would think if she entered the chapel and smelled tobacco. She said she thought it would be one of the priests.

  58. Silus Grok on July 20, 2006 at 11:39 am

    A personal story:

    My family’s not LDS, and growing-up, I had one, then two, then just one parent who smoked. So I always had a certain aura about me at church.

    Funny thing was, no one (in my memory) ever made a stink over it… the only reason I know that I must have smelled is that one year I decided to play Santa for a family in my ward where the dad had been laid-off (or something that felt like that to a 15 year old). I had spent hours making gifts and carefully wrapping them up and then — on the Christmas Eve — my mom drove me out to their house where I snuck around the back of their home and left them to be found.

    Next Sunday: “Thank you so much for the gifts” … “How’d you know?” … “They smelled just like you.”

    No judgement, just an observation.

    I was both tickled and a little embarrassed — not because I smelled, but because I had been found-out.

    Anyway… to my point: coming to Church was hard enough as it was, and I’m glad no one made a point of my tabacco aroma.

  59. Silver on July 20, 2006 at 11:48 am

    53 “By the way, during the years when I was a smoker it seemed that in general Mormons were more tolerant and willing to overlook my failings than many people in the “world.â€? I thought about the observation of C. S. Lewis–people who are trying to perfect themselves know all about temptation and tend to be more forgiving of the weaknesses of the flesh than people who readily submit to temptations. It’s the people who stand up against the wind who know how ferocious it can be.”

    Since C.S. Lewis was mentioned in connection with smoking, and in connection with being tolerant and overlooking failings, I’m happy that we, as a people, overlook Lewis’ own smoking and drinking. He has to be the most quoted non-LDS person at general conference.

  60. mullingandmusing (m&m) on July 20, 2006 at 1:45 pm

    And Prozac popping seekers of chemical release from unpleasant moods needn’t feel too certain that they have transcended the failings of caffeine addicts.

    I understand the points that you were making, but I think this crosses a line of inappropriateness. I have many friends who need antidepressants just as much as someone with a medical condition like diabetes or epilepsy needs medicine. “Unpleasant moods” are not usually what drive people to take these drugs. I’m not saying there isn’t agency that needs to be exercised as well by such people, but please be sensitive to the fact that, for some people, such drugs really are a necessity.

  61. Beijing on July 20, 2006 at 2:29 pm

    If anyone thinks social clubs don’t have norms of dress and behavior, enforced by admonishing and shaming those who don’t fit in, I’d like to know what social clubs they belong to.

  62. DKL on July 20, 2006 at 3:11 pm

    If they’d have had tobacco in Israel at the beginning of the 1st century AD, there’s no reason at all to suppose that Jesus would not have smoked.

    Nowadays, I think that people tend to get especially self-righteous about smoking, due mostly to the public smear campaign that C. Everett Koop started in the early eighties and which has persisted over the past 3 decades. It began with “passive smoking” and then moving to the more successfully propagandistic term “second hand smoke.” And now decades of sham studies based on principles that would be immediately rejected on the basis of implausibility in saner times–a study a few years back in New Zealand purportedly linked second hand smoking to skin cancer(!). The misinformation that has been propagated has lead people to adopt an outrageously moralistic attitude about smoking based entirely on false data (e.g., it leads to a “slow death for the partakers and those around them” — but you’ve got to admit that this is better than a fast death, like happens in a car accident or a fire). You’d have never heard that kind of thing said in the 70s, when people tended to be pro-choice about smoking. I think that this is one area where our forebears took a position that is morally superior to our own.

    Forgery, for example, is much worse than smoking, but people don’t go around snapping, “Forgery is a filthy habit.” They don’t go on at length about the slippery slope that one rides when he commits his first forgery. Even though forgery has a much more palpable impact on the people it defrauds than any supposed impact of second-hand smoke. Even if forging made you smell real bad, people wouldn’t wax as moralistic about it as they do about smoking.

    I should be ashamed if anything I did made a smoker feel less welcome in any congregation I attended.

  63. John Anon on July 20, 2006 at 3:55 pm

    \”I should be ashamed if anything I did made a smoker feel less welcome in any congregation I attended.\”

    I think I would be ashamed if I made anyone feel less welcome. I think Adam is right. This is bit like a bunch of people saying, \”Racism is wrong\”. My, we certainly are enlightened.

    Of course we should discourage the sin and encourage the sinner. Frankly, I think someone needs to move into annegb\’s ward and help that socially inept sister. Clearly, anne has suffered long enough ;)

  64. Adam Greenwood on July 20, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    I dunno, DKL. I’ve been pretty high and mighty about certain online frauds in my time.

  65. DKL on July 20, 2006 at 4:18 pm

    You bring up a good point, Adam. I think that the reaction over BoH, which cannot be considered fraud in any traditional legal sense, is just such an example. I don’t think that the reaction would have been nearly so frenzied if we’d have actually been guilty of some crime forgery.

    The reason for this is very simple. Forgery isn’t the kind of crime that appeals to any sense of cultural taboo, like looking at porn. It’s perceived as boring. Many mormon women would prefer to a a forger than to a guy who just liked to look at girly magazines. Smoking has been made into a societal taboo by decades of misrepresentation about it’s impact on non-smokers. Combine that with herd-instinct, and presto! you’ve got a bunch of people standing on a soapbox scoffing at it and deriding it.

    But even so, I trust you’re very close to completing the repentance process for your behavior concerning BoH.

  66. Adam Greenwood on July 20, 2006 at 4:20 pm

    I have a hard time believing, DKL, that we would have been less upset about BoH if there had been money involved.

  67. DKL on July 20, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    I said forgery, Adam. You keep talking about fraud in general. Some forms of monetary fraud do have a strong sense of societal taboo attached to them. Some don’t. Forgery doesn’t.

    My point is that we only have guttural reactions about wrong doing to others when (a) the wrong doing happens to us, or (b) it appeals to some strong sense of taboo. When something bad happens to someone else and their misfortune doesn’t attach itself to any societal taboo, the reaction is a mere, “That’s too bad.” Like when you hear about someone who gets ripped off by a contractor. I could tell you stories about things that have been stolen from me, and they’d just make you think, “Oh, that’s too bad.” The upshot of this is, in my opinion, that what many people call “moral indignation” is nothing more than a way of shouting vociferous agreement with societies most irrational proclivities.

  68. jimbob on July 20, 2006 at 4:36 pm

    “Forgery, for example, is much worse than smoking, but people don’t go around snapping, ‘Forgery is a filthy habit.’ They don’t go on at length about the slippery slope that one rides when he commits his first forgery. Even though forgery has a much more palpable impact on the people it defrauds than any supposed impact of second-hand smoke. Even if forging made you smell real bad, people wouldn’t wax as moralistic about it as they do about smoking.”

    Could just be that we know of more people smoking than we do forgers.

    Plus, besides the occasional Hoffman, I don’t know many people who got into forgery when they were impressionable kids and have been unable to stop. Accordingly, perhaps smoking merits its heavy preventative maintenance more than forgery does.

  69. Adam Greenwood on July 20, 2006 at 4:49 pm

    “The upshot of this is, in my opinion, that what many people call “moral indignationâ€? is nothing more than a way of shouting vociferous agreement with societies most irrational proclivities.”

    That doesn’t follow from what you’d said earlier.

  70. DKL on July 20, 2006 at 4:52 pm

    If you were in a room and you identified the forgers and the smokers, it’s a safe bet that you’d see more “tsk, tsk” finger wagging at the smokers.

    But you always hear people talking about the comparative importance of preventative acts that are needed in smoking that are not useful toward forgery. The problem with this is that it begs the question, because it pre-supposes the very irrational bias against smoking that my comparison identifies.

    In the 70s, before many people had superstitions that they’d get sick just from being near people who smoked, people didn’t tend to care about smoking one way or the other, and there was very little value attributed to “preventative” measures. Now, everyone talks about the drive to prevent smoking as though it were completely obvious why such it’s a good idea to spend resources on them.

  71. DKL on July 20, 2006 at 4:54 pm

    Adam, I’m insulted that you’d think that I’d pretend that it “followed” in any sense. What I said earlier was an instance over which my later statement is a generalization. When no pretense to validity is made, pointing out that validity is absent is not an effective counter-argument.

  72. jimbob on July 20, 2006 at 5:09 pm

    “If you were in a room and you identified the forgers and the smokers, it’s a safe bet that you’d see more ‘tsk, tsk’ finger wagging at the smokers.”

    I find that statement categorically unbelievable. Moreover, I don’t even know what a “tsk, tsk finger” is.

  73. Adam Greenwood on July 20, 2006 at 5:39 pm

    When no pretense of validity is made, no counter-argument is needed.

  74. mullingandmusing (m&m) on July 20, 2006 at 6:20 pm

    Not that this has any bearing on this lovely interchange about smoking vs. forgery, I sent a message yesterday that got eaten up. For the record, it included a thank you to Adam for clarifications about comment #35.

    It also shared my own experiences in my Utah ward where there is quite a bit of love and acceptance. Beards, smells of smoke, tattoos, torn jeans and atypical Sunday attire have all been seen. And the people associated with these things have been loved. Not all experiences in the Church (or more specifically in Utah) reflect what was expressed in #47.

  75. DKL on July 20, 2006 at 10:43 pm

    Adam Greenwood: When no pretense of validity is made, no counter-argument is needed.

    Well, I wouldn’t want to be caught saying this. I don’t suppose that you’ve though too long about it. For one thing, very few of the arguments that I’ve seen you advance would bear out their validity if any attempt was made to formalize them. For another thing, there’s really no valid argument for anything based on generalization from scattered instances (this has been called, “the problem of induction”). But that doesn’t keep scientists from advancing arguments based on scattered instances and others from trying to advance arguments in response (and there is controversy in science, you know).

    You may well disagree with the general principle that I’ve purported to extract from the instance, but your wrong to suggest that there’s a methodological problem associated with such a form of non-deductive argument.

  76. It's Not Me on July 21, 2006 at 1:54 am

    Dan Y: “Regarding the “not wearing garmentsâ€? crowd (#48): Determining which members of my ward have been to the temple and which haven’t is something I doubt I could do with 100% accuracy. Do you have any advice in that regard?”

    Not sure if you were being facetious or not, but obviously it’s not my job–as a “regular” member of the ward–to “worry” about which members have or haven’t been to the temple. As a priesthood leader, however, that is a part of my stewardship (though as a non-bishop, a smaller part of my stewardship). As a priesthood leader I am given a list of endowed members of the ward. I am very protective of this list, and don’t even share it with my assistants. It is helpful to me, as a priesthood leader, to know this sort of thing so that I may seek inspiration on how to help members who a) haven’t been to the temple yet to get there, and b) help those who have been there to get back. I have no stewardship to tell others (other than in a general talk from the pulpit) that they should wear their garments.

  77. It's Not Me on July 21, 2006 at 1:59 am

    #62 DKL “[smoking] leads to a “slow death for the partakers and those around themâ€? — but you’ve got to admit that this is better than a fast death, like happens in a car accident or a fire).”

    I disagree. I’d rather be killed quickly in a car crash (or bullet through the head) than slowly wither with lung cancer.

  78. DKL on July 21, 2006 at 4:29 am

    It’s Not Me: I’d rather be killed quickly in a car crash (or bullet through the head) than slowly wither with lung cancer.

    Far be it from me to recommend desirable ways for you to die. For my part, I think I should prefer to die of the plague. I’m not sure why. It just sounds so… final.

  79. Adam Greenwood on July 21, 2006 at 11:09 am

    DKL,
    you’re the one who put things in terms of technical ‘validity,’ not me. So let me restate in a way you can understand. The instances you cite don’t support your general principle.

  80. DKL on July 21, 2006 at 1:02 pm

    Adam: Fair enough. I mistook your verbiage (viz., your reference to whether or not something “follows”) to be a deductive reference. But Nate’s thread of moral indigence of the offenders and (possibly) the offended probably isn’t the place to argue about a principle that I take to be part and parcel of Western Liberalism.

    Here’s how we can work this out. I’ll invoke Hitler, and then you win by Godwin’s Law. So here’s my invocation of Hitler. You win.

  81. DKL on July 21, 2006 at 1:04 pm

    Oops. That last link should have been to this here location (for some reason, my clipboard didn’t pick up the url when I copied it). Would some editor out there mind fixing the link?

  82. DKL on July 21, 2006 at 1:08 pm

    Anyway, here’s something I’ve been dying to ask, but I haven’t been able to find an appropriate thread in which to ask it:

    Is it true that Melissa and Kristine were retired from their perma-blogger status because they made this video? (Kristine is the one in the pig tails, btw.)

  83. Adam Greenwood on July 21, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    DKL,
    Sorry about the confusion. I have zilch logical and philosophical training or interest, so when I say something doesn’t ‘follow’ I mean it vaguely.

    I appreciate the self-sacrificing Godwin’s law reference, but since DKL=Hitler, as I thought I read somewhere, and I was the first one in the thread to call you DKL, I’d already lost the argument long before then.

  84. Adam Greenwood on July 21, 2006 at 1:38 pm

    DKL,

    I can’t comment on whether that’s MP and KHH in that video (MP is the one with the pig tails, not KHH).

  85. Dan Y. on July 21, 2006 at 2:03 pm

    It’s Not Me (#77): Yes, I was being facetious — I probably shouldn’t have been — sorry. I do understand that people with certain callings are more in the know regarding the ordinance history of their fellow ward members than are regular members.

    Perhaps I should have limited myself to making the more general point that — even for people with special knowledge of the sort you discuss and especially for regular members, and even were we not warned against judging in the scriptures — in evaluating the righteousness of our fellow worshippers we often lack certain relevant information, without which our judgement is necessarily suspect. To your credit, you observe that you are still working to get yourself where you want to be on this matter. I too have work to do. Though my pet issues might be different than yours, I fall as short as almost anyone vis-a-vis judging.

  86. gst on July 21, 2006 at 2:43 pm

    Adam, DKL is not Hitler, I feel compelled to point out for some reason.

  87. DKL on July 21, 2006 at 2:54 pm

    LOL.

  88. It's Not Me on July 21, 2006 at 11:26 pm

    Dan Y. #85 – While I can’t do it very successfully, I do think there is a difference between judging unrighteous judgment and observing facts. In theory, I can know that Jane Doe has been endowed and I can observe that she frequently does not wear her garments, especially in the summer time. Beyond that observation (and without more), there’s not much I can conclude (though in my weakness I usually do reach some conclusions, though they’re never about where a person’s going, just where they are–wrong or not).

  89. queuno on July 21, 2006 at 11:36 pm

    So … if you’re a Romney-dismissive (or at least Romney-ambivalent) Mormon, you can still go to Church and be not judged?

    Excellent.

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