A Compendium of Mormon News?

October 10, 2008 | 62 comments
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For the past couple weeks I’ve received email reports, forwarded to me from a friend, written by a lawyer who is LDS and who is prosecuting a counselor in a Stake Presidency in a ponzi scheme. The situation is sad, the email messages fascinating and the news that this is a counselor in a stake presidency can’t be found anywhere.

Should it?

I think so.

For about five years I ran a news service called Mormon News, which collected and reported “All the News about Mormons, Mormonism and the LDS Church.

Probably the biggest complaint I received was exactly this — that somehow I shouldn’t carry “negative” news. That we don’t really want to know when a member of a stake presidency has defrauded members and non-members alike, or that we don’t want to know about a returned missionary who killed someone or the pedophile who trolled through an LDS congregation.

I responded to these complaints by suggesting that it is better to find out about these stories from a Mormon-friendly source, someone who would give a full account of the facts, help members and non-members alike understand how it could happen.

I realize that many people believe that stories like this could reflect badly on the Church. For me, I don’t believe they can. LDS Church members make mistakes, they sin just like everyone else. And I believe that temptation to sin increases with knowledge and responsibility — one of the reasons I’d rather not be a bishop is I’d rather not have the temptations that I’m sure I’d receive. It stands to reason that occasionally some of those with responsibilities like these in the Church will err.

I came of age during the Watergate scandal. As a result, I have a certain distrust for bureaucracy and for those who take advantage of the authority given them. I also have a distrust of the media, in general. IMO, we are better off with both good authority and with media watching what they do, regardless of whether or not we are discussing the government or any other bureaucracy.

I’ve often considered starting Mormon News again. In order to do so, I’m working on a way to do it without the huge amount of my time it required. I can’t see doing it without honestly covering all the news about Mormons, Mormonism and the LDS Church.

Am I wrong?

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62 Responses to A Compendium of Mormon News?

  1. Steve Evans on October 10, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Kent, I liked Mormon News. You should do it.

  2. Mark on October 10, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    I agree with you completely. For years I\’ve marveled at our allergy for unpleasant news. Obviously there are very sad, unfortunate, even evil things that go on among the members (and sometimes leaders) of the Church. These things should be brought into the light, fully exposed for what they are, rather than kept in the dark where they can elude fair discussion. Do we avoid this type of discussion because it causes us to lose faith in the Church? If the first principle of our personal gospels is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, not faith in the Church, why should this really concern us?

  3. Neurobuntu on October 10, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    No one benefits from one sided news. It leads to complacency and a false sense of reality. A testimony is built upon spiritual experiences and a relationship with God, not on history. There have and will always been dark dealings in mormondom. The sooner our culture as a whole comes to grips with this the sooner we can move beyond it. I\’m all for the re-creation of mormon news, with the bad and the good!

  4. Neurobuntu on October 10, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    No one benefits from one sided news. It leads to complacency and a false sense of reality. A testimony is built upon spiritual experiences and a relationship with God, not on history. There have and will always been dark dealings in mormondom. The sooner our culture as a whole comes to grips with this the sooner we can move beyond it. I\’m all for the re-creation of mormon news, with the bad and the good!

  5. Kevin Barney on October 10, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    I remember Mormon News fondly.

    Now I get a daily set of clips that a friend puts together. It’s the good, the bad and the ugly. I find it very useful. That’s the only way to go; otherwise the clips service is worthless.

  6. Tim Malone on October 10, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    You are not wrong but you will continue to get opposition from the very conservative who feel that we should not give equal time to the negative. As an admitted news junkie, and especially of all news stories related to the church and it’s members, I would enjoy seeing Mormon News revived. I’m sure you know that you have a lot of competition. For example, Mormon Times and Mormon Haven. However, your proposed objective of carrying negative stories as well, would fill a much needed vacuum. Our testimonies are not based on good news or bad news, but we get asked about the bad news all the time. Having a central source would save hours of scrambling to get facts in order to respond. Go for it!

  7. BruceC on October 10, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    The bad press the Catholic Church got for its problem with the sexual behaviour of some priests was compounded by the cover-ups. Lets not cover up our errors. We must repudiate them. Publicly if necessary.

  8. Bro. Jones on October 10, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Wow, I hadn’t heard of Mormon News until now. I would fully support this endeavor.

    #6 Mormon Times is not a competitor–it’s so full of one-sided, syrupy claptrap that any news source with a broader perspective would be leagues beyond it.

  9. Kent Larsen on October 10, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    BruceC (7):
    That’s an interesting comparison to make. As you probably know, we (Mormons) have had our own problems with pedophiles using the Church to find victims, but for some reason those cases haven’t caught the amount of negative publicity that the Catholic Church caught for priests. This is true in spite of the fact that many of these pedophiles have been active Church members and priesthood holders (to outsiders, of course, priesthood holders = leaders).

    I suspect that this has simply been because the largest number of cases that hit the news have involved Catholic priests. With comparatively fewer Mormons in the US, fewer of these cases involve Mormons. Of course, there are probably other factors involved as well.

  10. Kim Siever on October 10, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    I agree. I always enjoyed Mormon News, and I was fine with the objective coverage. I did it myself for Canadian Mormons.

  11. Rick on October 10, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    I enjoyed Mormon News, and when it was discontinued, I simply set up Google alerts on “LDS” and “Mormon.” For a couple of years now, I have been getting a single daily email from Google containing all the news about these topics — good, bad, and ugly. It’s very easy to do at http://www.google.com/alerts?hl=en.

  12. Dave on October 10, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    I stumbled onto the Mormon News just as it was winding up, and I was sad to see it go. I think a lot of dynamic content can now be pulled into the site automatically using sidebar lists in a way it couldn’t five years ago.

  13. clark on October 10, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Bad news should be good news in that it is telling us things we need to improve. How on earth can we be engaged in eternal progression without seeing the things that need progressed?

  14. Kent Larsen on October 10, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Rick (11):

    FWIW, this is something along the lines of what I’ve been thinking of for a new Mormon News. But Google Alerts as you describe is very limited in the number of terms that it can follow (I’d include much more than what shows up when you enter the terms “LDS” or “Mormon” or “Latter-day Saint”) and it is very limited in the number of news sources that it draws from (generally only those in English, and mostly only those with RSS feeds or that have been identified as News by Google). I think a site targeted to Mormonism can be much more comprehensive than what you get with Google Alerts.

    For example, the story about the counselor in the stake presidency that I led the post with doesn’t show up in Google.

  15. Rick on October 10, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Kent (14): True. I didn’t know he was a counselor in a stake presidency, but I knew of the case and that he was a “prominent Mormon.” I sadly am also aware of the bishop that is currently being prosecuted for child abuse. Don’t get me wrong — I enjoyed Mormon News and the summary articles you used to do when you identified trends or common threads. As I recall, you did something like that about the creche displays that were becoming common public-relations efforts in the Church a few years ago. I am only commenting on what I did to replace Mormon News when it went away.

  16. Micah E. on October 10, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    It\’s a natural human tendency to present a sanitized version of ourselves and our history. And there should be room for that. But it\’s likely more productive to have outlets where we can take an honest look at ourselves and receive critical feedback or at least engage in better self-evaluation. Yeah, the reality is that we are prone to make mistake in our official and unofficial capacities as members of the church. It seems to me that a stable dialogue that engages the realities of our faults coupled with a discussion of solutions would be healthy. Then when members encounter some of these challenges the result won\’t be so much a question of faith but a discernment of individuals.

    My reluctance about a forum to facilitate this discussion would be how easy it would be to focus on the problem (threads of discussion beginning with \”Well, I heard about a bishop that…\” \”Oh, and I heard about at time when the young men\’s president….\”) and not on the solutions/ figuring out how to overcome the issues. Certainly it\’s therapeutic and important to hash out discussion on problems (I\’m all about it) but the more productive approach seeks solutions. And that\’s sometimes hard to do, especially when the problem is somehow interpersonal in nature because validation becomes the quick fix and the actual solution gets pushed to the wayside.

  17. Paula on October 10, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    Yes bring back Mormonnews, without editing out the “bad”. I missed it too.

  18. ls12 on October 10, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    Tim:
    As one who’s conservative bonafides are not questioned, let me state I have no problem with including the full story. I’m not certain anyone has any data to conclude that is what conservatives who felt like they need to hide the news.

    Kent, you are so spot on. It is always better to find out the truth from a source that wants to make the full truth known, instead of just tearing down the church like some current news stories.

  19. Alex Valencic on October 10, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    While I don’t think it is good to filter out the negative news that involves members of the church, I find myself asking: How often does the person’s affiliation with the LDS church affect what is going on? Let’s use this ponzi scheme example. Did the member of the Stake Presidency use his leadership position to influence people? Does the fact that he is a counselor in the Stake Presidency have anything to do with the prosecution? Most of the time, I would guess that the answer is, quite simply, no.

    Now, when there is a member of the church who preys on children in the church, that is a relevant connection. When a member uses a position of authority/leadership to influence a person or a group in an inappropriate way, that is relevant. When a member of the church makes a random mistake, or does something stupid, and it does not involve the church or church members, then it is not relevant and has no place in the news account.

    After all, I haven’t heard anybody reporting about the religious persuasions of the people in charge of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The people are important. Most of the time, the religious persuasion is irrelevant.

  20. ls12 on October 10, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Alex,
    True.
    But they also haven’t been pointing out the gay relationship between one congressman and one executive at one of those banks. I suspect liberal bias.

  21. mlu on October 10, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Is the fact that a criminal is also a Mormon important news? It might matter if it were the case that his superiors in the church are implicated in his crimes or that they are covering up, in the sense of trying to keep him in his church office and trying to thwart the criminal prosecution, over which they would have no control.

    On the face of it, it doesn’t sound like a Mormon story to me at all.

  22. lou on October 11, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Freddie Mac is riddled with Mormons. A former president, David Glenn, is a Mormon. That gosh darned liberal media somehow overlooked all them guys.

  23. Kent Larsen on October 11, 2008 at 9:08 am

    Alex Valencic (19):
    FWIW, in the case of the counselor in the stake presidency, it is clearly a factor. Members of his stake were among those defrauded, and his position was one of the things that led the victims to trust him. So, yes, he did use his position to influence people.

    To be honest, when both the perpetrator and victim are members of the Church, and the perpetrator holds a position of trust (such as counselor in the stake presidency), I don’t see how it wouldn’t be a factor.

    These issues always depend a lot on the circumstances, and in my experience, those who criticize the media for mentioning religion are sometimes “late to the party” in this respect. Several times when I’ve heard this criticism (i.e., that the media have no business mentioning the person’s religion), the perpetrator caused the problem because he raised the Church in his defense (I’d never do that, I’m a good Mormon). Most of the time, IMO, its relevant, either because of the circumstances or because the person involved is already known for his Church membership.

    Please don’t take this as a criticism of you, but I’d guess much of the time the problem is as much that LDS members of the audience are annoyed or uncomfortable because they think the news paints the Church in a bad light, and aren’t familiar enough with the news story and its background to make a fair judgement of whether or not religion is relevant.

    Of course, the media do make mistakes in some cases also.

    There is also the problem of when Mormonism is connected to people who are public figures in one way or another.

    For example, take the LA Dodger’s 2nd baseman Jeff Kent. I covered him on Mormon News when he played for the Mets and the Giants. While his Mormonism wasn’t all that well known, it did surface occasionally, and since Mormon News covered public figures who are Mormon, we occasionally ran articles about him.

    Then he got in trouble after he broke his leg in the off-season and lied about how it happened (he was riding a motorcycle in violation of his contract, which prohibits such activities because, well, he might break a leg or something).

    As far as I recall, none of the news reports from elesewhere mentioned that he was Mormon. Of course, Mormon News would have to carry the news and mention the connection, because we had already pointed out his membership to our readers, and it would look like we weren’t doing our job if we didn’t cover the story.

    Somehow we don’t mind seeing positive news if the person is LDS. As far as I can tell, no one complained when news stories about Stephenie Meyer mention that she is LDS (IMO, her novels aren’t really Mormon – the only reason Mormonism is involved is that she is an active LDS member). But once the news story turns negative, many members are quick to criticize the media for making the connection. IMO, its not right to criticize the negative stories and not the positive also.

    I hope that I’ve made it clear that while the media do make some mistakes in this area, its really not as clear as the criticisms make it out to be. Often, despite what we would like, the connection is relevant, or necessary because of the person’s position in the community.

  24. Kent Larsen on October 11, 2008 at 9:11 am

    ls12 (20):

    True. But they also haven’t been pointing out the gay relationship between one congressman and one executive at one of those banks. I suspect liberal bias.

    And I suspect a bias toward the salacious, regardless of the political or religious persuasion of the subject.

    BUT, more importantly, lets make sure our comments are on topic.

    Suggesting the media don’t cover religious persuasion correctly is on topic for this post. Suggesting the media have a liberal bias is not.

  25. Kent Larsen on October 11, 2008 at 9:20 am

    mlu (21):

    As I mentioned in #23, the counselor in the stake presidency used his position to commit his fraud. Members of the stake trusted him because of it.

    In leadership positions like this, where there is a certain level of trust because of the position, its nearly impossible for the Church to NOT be a factor.

    IMO, Church History is riddled with examples of this. I’m sure someone like Ardis will correct me, but many, of the Church’s most vocal critics in the 1800s left the Church after some business dealing in which they felt cheated by a Church leader they trusted.

  26. Alex Valencic on October 11, 2008 at 10:29 am

    FWIW, I feel the same way toward positive news about Mormons as I do negative. We, as members of the church, really don’t go around “wearing our religion on our sleeves” as President Hinckley once said. And just because a member of the church does something awesome, or amazing, or even generally good, their LDS membership is still probably irrelevant.

    And, in some cases, it is a bit distracting. Stephenie Meyer is a good example. Not only are her stories very non-LDS, her characters are quite obvious non-LDS. You have characters who question the existence of the soul, others who feel that marriage is an out-dated concept, and at least one who actually goes so far as to say that marriage and eternity don’t relate!

    I think the only thing about Stephenie that would indicate she may be LDS, based off her books’ jacket covers, is that she went to BYU and now lives in Arizona. *rolls eyes*

  27. Ellis on October 11, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Not being either liberal or conservative I have mixed feelings about when a persons religion is relevant to a news story. Not all prosecutions result in justice being served. Sometimes well meaning but foolish people haven’t acquainted themselves well enough with the law to realize that they have involved themselves in something that is illegal. One thing leads to another and they act on decisions designed to keep their heads above water. As a result they do not act in their own best interest or the best interests of others they have involved. They run afoul of the law without realizing what they are doing.

    It might be instructive to run stories about the schemes that have gotten prominent church members into trouble as a cautionary measure for others who could be caught up in something they don’t fully understand. But, because of the presumption of innocence, I think allegations should not result in a person’s religion being published.

    I absolutely believe that adhering to the mind your own business code harms the community. It allows con artists of all persuasions, religious or otherwise, to do a lot of damage to innocent people.

  28. Velska on October 11, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    As a Mormon who has been conned by another (no misuse of authority involved), I’d say that religion was irrelevant to both of us in that particular case (except that we knew each other through Church connexions – I had done work for someone he knew). It was strictly business – my business sense just isn’t that acute, apparently.

    And, as Ellis in #27 reminds us, prosecution is quite often unsuccessful for varied reasons.

    Recently I have witnessed a Ponzi-like situation crash on some people, some of them members. But relevant to me is that some of the people who were accused of crimes were most obviously among the early adopters, who got a good enough return on their investment for long enough time to actually believe in the operation. It was only when they failed to come up with more suckers that they discovered the scam. It will take a long time to sort out who knew what when – and likely we’ll never know.

    My point is, it would serve a purpose to report that some Mormon, whom more than just his ward members know, is being accused or convicted of a crime, especially if abuse of trust is apparent. That would be responsible reporting.

  29. Julie M. Smith on October 11, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    This is perhaps the topic for another post, but Meyers’ books may not be -superficially- LDS but they are -deeply- LDS in terms of worldview. If I were trying to raise good atheists, I probably wouldn’t let me kids read them. :)

  30. Silus Grok on October 11, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    ( Kent… if you do choose to move forward with this, I’d love to be of service on the design side. I have an extensive background in graphic design. )

  31. Tim Malone on October 12, 2008 at 12:54 am

    I mentioned two sites attempting to fill this need and agree with the comments that Mormon Times is a bit syrupy.

    Joel Hardy owns Mormon Haven and I seem to recall reading that he spends a lot of time choosing stories each day.

    I’m surprised nobody mentioned LDS News Source, a relatively new venture. Does that fall into the same category or is it more balanced?

    Kent, without giving away your secrets, do you envision something like an automated Google News search, or will there be a bit of editorial selection involved? I assume you’ll be more balanced than Meridian Magazine.

    Also, where will you get some of the inside scoops on what’s happening out there? Will you solicit a volunteer cadre of reporters in each stake? In other words, how much original reporting do you envision?

    Sorry to raise so many questions. I once looked into this as a business venture but dumped it after reviews of the prototype by family, friends and ward members brought up that point about too many negative stories.

    I didn’t think it was negative, but the response was typical of the people I hoped who subscribe to the service. Maybe the world has changed by now and there are enough people interested in a balanced LDS news source.

    I even ran it by contacts at Deseret News, Desert Book and Church headquarters (my sisters works there). I called it “The Church in the News.” Funny, that title showed up on LDS Newsroom when it was first created.

    Anyway, I think it’s a great idea and wish you luck. By the way, would it be weekly, daily, or closer to real-time?

  32. mlu on October 12, 2008 at 11:27 am

    I really doubt people with the debunking spirit are motivated by a desire to build a better society.

  33. Erik on October 12, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    I haven\’t seen mention yet of http://ldstoday.com, a Mormon news aggregator that I\’ve noticed includes both positive and negative stories about the church and church members.

  34. aloysiusmiller on October 12, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Of course you should do Mormon News but make sure that you have a narrative. There is no news without a narrative. The narrative exists to help you choose which stories to play so that the narrative can be developed. Stories that don’t develop the narrative should be ignored because they are not really stories, are they?

    White male patriarchy is kind of overdone but it is a start. You’ll figure it out. Somewhere down deep there is an injustice seething and you will lay it bare. Feed your anger…

  35. mlu on October 12, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Obviously there are very sad, unfortunate, even evil things that go on among the members (and sometimes leaders) of the Church. These things should be brought into the light, , ,There have and will always been dark dealings in mormondom. The sooner our culture as a whole comes to grips with this the sooner we can move beyond. . .your proposed objective of carrying negative stories as well, would fill a much needed vacuum. . .As you probably know, we (Mormons) have had our own problems with pedophiles using the Church to find victims, but for some reason those cases haven’t caught the amount of negative publicity that the Catholic Church caught for priests . . .Bad news should be good news. . .

    Has T&S always been so helpful?

  36. Chance on October 13, 2008 at 12:05 am

    I’m with mlu. How is this news? It sounds more like gossip to me…I know, only a fine line exists between to two, but it exists nonetheless, and should be observed.

    What of any value are we supposed to take away from an article such as the ponzi scheme?

  37. Kent Larsen on October 13, 2008 at 7:53 am

    Alex (26):

    FWIW, I feel the same way toward positive news about Mormons as I do negative. We, as members of the church, really don’t go around “wearing our religion on our sleeves” as President Hinckley once said. And just because a member of the church does something awesome, or amazing, or even generally good, their LDS membership is still probably irrelevant.

    Really?

    What happened to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works…”

  38. Kent Larsen on October 13, 2008 at 7:57 am

    Valeska (28):

    My point is, it would serve a purpose to report that some Mormon, whom more than just his ward members know, is being accused or convicted of a crime, especially if abuse of trust is apparent. That would be responsible reporting.

    One of the very real problems I’ve read about among child abusers is the tendency they have to abuse one place, and then as they are about to be caught, move on to another where they aren’t known.

    I know that the Church has a mechanism for passing such information from Bishop to Bishop, but I don’t think that the members have much protection.

  39. Kent Larsen on October 13, 2008 at 7:59 am

    mlu (30):

    I really doubt people with the debunking spirit are motivated by a desire to build a better society.

    Huh? When did we talk about “people with the debunking spirit?”

    We’re just talking about news items.

  40. micah on October 13, 2008 at 10:21 am

    You will likely find those of a conservative bent who will complain about airing dirty linen in public, or the Yiddish “a shanda fur die goy” (a shame before the goyim).

    For all that, perhaps another service would be a Mormon History with the same goal: reveal warts and all and let the reader be the judge of the usefulness.

  41. Banned Commenter on October 13, 2008 at 11:13 am

    The membership of an apostle charged with armed robbery would be relevant. The membership of a Primary chorister charged with parking too close to a fire hydrant would be irrelevant. In between in a shaded scale where Kent Larsen’s “very real problems” and “need to protect the membership” might occasionally be my gossip.

    I’m only a lurker but I’ve noticed how often I agree with mlu and how often I disagree with Kent Larsen. But then I’m only a Utah Mormon, the value-of-existence of which Kent Larsen is apparently unsure, so that may explain my disagreement.

  42. Kent Larsen on October 13, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Chance (34):

    What of any value are we supposed to take away from an article such as the ponzi scheme?

    I’m not sure that all news items are supposed to have value for all of us on a personal level. When the President of our country meets with a foreign leader, I think it is news, but I don’t necessarily see value for me or even for most members of the public.

    But, to answer what the value is in this case, let me note that I pointed out above (23), the counselor in this issue used his position and membership in the Church to defraud others.

    There are many different lessons that can be taken from this story. For example:
    * Even leaders can make serious errors
    * Beware of this particular member, should he move to your stake
    * Caveat Emptor
    * Repentance requires recognizing your error (according to the reports I’ve read, this person has so far refused to recognize his error).

    I suspect that diving into the details of the story may yield many more lessons or things of value from the news.

    I agree that sometimes the news media does make mistakes and mentions religion when it shouldn’t. It also covers things that are mostly gossip, at times.

    But, IMO, this case is quite clear. The position that this member holds makes it much more likely that his actions are news than if he were a member of the Church. And, most importantly, the fact that his position in the Church led members to invest in his ponzi scheme also makes this news.

    In this vein I should also point out that when I was running Mormon News, most of what we carried was news that had already been published by another news source (newspaper, TV, radio, etc.) If other news media have already published the news item and made the connection that the person involved is LDS, doesn’t that itself make it newsworthy for the LDS community? If the media cover it, don’t we want to know so that we can be prepared to discuss the news with our neighbors when it comes up?

    Avoiding the truth or hiding our heads in the sand doesn’t support the Church at all!

  43. Kent Larsen on October 13, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Micah (38):

    For all that, perhaps another service would be a Mormon History with the same goal: reveal warts and all and let the reader be the judge of the usefulness.

    In general, I think Mormonism has made great strides in this direction in the past few decades. For example, despite the criticisms I’ve heard of it, Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling was a significant step toward recognizing the warts in Joseph Smith’s life. I’m confident we will continue to see steps forward like this one.

    I do agree with the parallel between Mormon History and this news coverage of Mormons. The problems faced are very similar.

  44. Kent Larsen on October 13, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Banned Commenter (39):

    I’m only a lurker but I’ve noticed how often I agree with mlu and how often I disagree with Kent Larsen. But then I’m only a Utah Mormon, the value-of-existence of which Kent Larsen is apparently unsure, so that may explain my disagreement.

    Apparently you would rather emphasize your annoyance with me instead of actually addressing the post and comments here. If you have a problem with me personally, write me personally (and have the guts to give your real name instead of hiding behind “Banned Commenter”). Otherwise, stay on topic.

    If you really disagree, then please tell me why.

  45. Jim Cobabe on October 13, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Kent,

    I disagree strongly with the current trend in writing history toward portraying historical figures in a humanistic light. While we understand that men in church history were certainly human, explaining so does little to complement my understanding and appreciation of how the Lord works with imperfect servants. I don’t care how Joseph put his boots on. I only know that he was inspired of God. Messages to that end help me in my discipleship. Other information just mostly serves to confuse and distract.

  46. cyri on October 13, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    #43

    The church will ultimately lose more souls than it will gain with your pre-internet approach. We have to start innoculating better or suffer severe consequences. You may not want to know the full story, but you will from one source or another irrespective of your distaste for it because it is and will increasingly be ever present. It is better that the source of the full story is friendly, or at least sympathetic, to the church.

  47. Kent Larsen on October 13, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Jim (45): The reason for a humanistic approach isn’t whether or not such an approach will “complement your understanding and appreciation” (although I think it does complement the understanding and appreciation of others, even if it doesn’t for you). I think Mormons gain more by, as Cyri in 46 suggests, taking the thunder out of anti-Mormons, who use the odd, obscure and sometimes unsavory aspects of Mormon History to attack those with weak testimonies.

    If you don’t want to read those things, don’t. But personally, I feel much less vulnerable when I discuss the gospel and Mormon History with outsiders because I know and have resolved in my mind (to a degree) many of these aspects of Mormonism.

  48. cyril on October 13, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Yes, I meant 45, not 43. And in my haste I left the l off of my name.

  49. Jim Cobabe on October 13, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    For all the public clamor demanding “warts and all” historical accounts, I have never seen any objective substantiation for claims that this approach will provide net gains in member acceptance, understanding, or testimony. And I have witnessed much that supports the contrary.

    Are you willing to be the ultimate source for causing someone to stumble and lose their way, over an uncertain or obscure point of “history”? I would rather stick to Jesus Christ, and him crucified. Pursuit of other matters is according to your personal tastes.

    I look, for example, at the current controversy about the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Authoritative testimony is now available. How many do you suppose will become converted and experience the “mighty change of heart” as a result of reading? How many will even change their minds with regard to the disposition of the church? I think perhaps a few — I would not discount that — but accounts of “faithful” history are much more effective at convincing and winning converts. If you give this a bit of thought, I think you will see that this is as it should be. Testimonies are made based upon the witness of the spirit — not on getting all the dirt into a historical account.

    If the scriptures had been written with the standards today’s historians insist on, the message of the gospel would certainly be lost.

  50. cyril on October 13, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Jim, facts matter. They don’t and should never eclipse faith, but facts matter. If faith is built on falsehood, large or small, then it is not the enduring faith required to persevere to the end. For the winds and storms always come, and when they come in the form of historically factual accounts about the church that can be unpleasant to digest (e.g., MMM) or seem downright wrong (JS marrying 14 year old behind Emma’s back) — those “warts” as you call them — they tend to blindside folks who have never heard even rumors of such things.

    I was fortunate to grow up in a home that discussed these types of things in enough but not too much detail that, when the fullness of the stories were revealed to me, I was not uprooted like a pine tree in a hurricane. But I have seen and talked to many, many people who had no idea about these facts, and their response to those facts when revealed has been almost unanimous — loss of faith and trust in the church to some large or small degree and, more sadly, the gospel as well.

    We need to stop sanitizing God’s dealings with imperfect humans so much that we erase the gulf between the two types of beings.

  51. Paul H. Dunn on October 13, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    I heartily agree with those commenters who have said that we should not let reality get in the way of a good, faith-promoting story. Who wants to deal with all those messy facts anyway?

  52. Alex Valencic on October 13, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Kent,

    Letting your light shine doesn’t require you to go out and say, “HEY! LOOK AT ME! I’M MORMON AND I’VE DONE SOMETHING GOOD!” I’ve always understood the injunction to let your light shine to be simply that, letting it shine. Others will see it, without you trumpeting about what you’ve done. Actions speak for themselves.

    I’m not saying that we should hide our good deeds. I just don’t think that our good deeds are because we are Mormons. After all, there are many people in the world who do good things. And there are many who do bad things. These choices are made because they have the ability to make them. I don’t do good things because I’m a Mormon. And I’m not a Mormon because I do good things. I am a Mormon who (tries) to do good things. Again, it all gets down to the matter of relevance. Does it matter if the person were LDS? If so, it belongs in the news. If not, it doesn’t.

  53. Banned Commenter on October 13, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    You ignore the most relevant part of my comment:

    The membership of an apostle charged with armed robbery would be relevant. The membership of a Primary chorister charged with parking too close to a fire hydrant would be irrelevant. In between in a shaded scale where Kent Larsen’s “very real problems” and “need to protect the membership” might occasionally be my gossip.

    in order to pick a fight. I have as much right as any other guest to use a pseudonym, regardless of my “guts” and I suspect that you are not yet setting policy for the permas.

    Care to acknowledge the first part of my comment, and suggest where on the sliding scale you would put your news compendium? Many commenters have asked for exactly what I am asking, in different words: When church membership is concerned, what marks the boundary between newsworthiness and gossip? You have a higher bar to reach when reporting negatively than when reporting positively. Good news, even when it is puffy gossip, at least causes no harm. Bad news can very easily damage both reader and subject — where should the line be drawn?

  54. cyril on October 13, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    “Good news, even when it is puffy gossip, at least causes no harm.” Except when that good news is false, in whole or in part. Then it can cause lots of harm in the end. Like Brother Dunn said.

  55. Dale Robertson on October 13, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    There is a scripture that says that there “must be opposition in all things.” It doesn’t say that opposition is an option or might be nice, It says that there MUST be opposition. So official sources are ok, but opposition is essential. Look what we misses out on by ignoring the Mountain Medows Massacre. We could have had several generations of meaningful discussion of how we relate to authority, personal responsibility, loving our enemies, etc. Instead we are now scrambling to find answers. So let’s have Mormon News and Mormon Times. The Kingdom can endure both. Sis Okazaki said that if we both have the same opinion on something, one of us is not necessary.

    Dale Robertson

  56. Kent Larsen on October 13, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Alex (52):

    Perhaps you are looking at the purpose of mentioning why someone is Mormon differently than I am. Your orientation seems to be mostly towards outsiders. But my purpose for Mormon News is primarily one of providing news to those who are Mormon, not primarily to outsiders.

    I do think you are right that we don’t need to go around tooting our own horn. But when someone does notice, isn’t it all right to let other Mormons know about it?

    If it isn’t OK to pass on this news, then the Church has been doing it in the Church News and the “News of the Church” section of the Ensign and elsewhere for decades.

    I suspect there is a balance somewhere on this issue — at some point making the connection all the time is like bragging — we’ve already “obtained our reward” by doing it. But I don’t think that completely ignoring what other Mormons do is good either.

    I’ll have to give this idea some more thought to see if I can come up with where I think the line should be drawn.

  57. mlu on October 13, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    I have no problem with facts.

    And I think Dale Robertson is worrying too much if he thinks that without his help the Church will face no opposition.

    I think it was Isaiah that said the wicked will destroy the wicked. Throw all the stones you want.

    I think there are better things to do.

  58. Kent Larsen on October 13, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Banned Commenter (53):

    You ignore the most relevant part of my comment:

    I read it and chose not to reply BECAUSE of your attitude in the rest of your comment. Why should I reply to someone who obviously thinks anything I say isn’t worth reading?

    The membership of an apostle charged with armed robbery would be relevant. The membership of a Primary chorister charged with parking too close to a fire hydrant would be irrelevant. In between in a shaded scale where Kent Larsen’s “very real problems” and “need to protect the membership” might occasionally be my gossip.

    Like you, I do understand where the extremes are. Defining where I think the line should be is very difficult. Any time you have a continuum like this, the grey area in the middle can be vague and difficult to describe.

    Off the top of my head, I think a number of factors have to be weighed. I’d have to look at the following factors, and possibly others as well:
    * The person’s position and commitment to the Church
    * Whether other (non-Mormon) news media had already reported the news and the person’s affiliation with the Church.
    * How much risk (in any number of areas – Spiritual, Temporal, Fiscal, etc.) other Church members might be in, given this news
    * Whether this news reflects a trend or something that is happening frequently, but isn’t widely known
    * The ways that the news could be used by anti-Mormons to portray the Church in a bad light.

    I’m afraid there are enough factors that I can’t give you an exact formula for where I would end up. But given enough details and information, I’m sure I could weigh and decide whether or not I think almost any situation is newsworthy.

    I can say that the situation I described above, of a counselor in a stake presidency perpetrating a ponzi scheme on members of his stake, I think it is clearly newsworthy. I think this is true because:
    * The man is a counselor in a stake presidency
    * The fraud was perpetrated in part on members of his stake
    * This kind of fraud has happened way to frequently (IMO) among Mormons, but its occurrence is less well known outside of the Intermountain West, where (from what I can tell) this situation occurred.

    in order to pick a fight. I have as much right as any other guest to use a pseudonym, regardless of my “guts” and I suspect that you are not yet setting policy for the permas.

    I didn’t say you didn’t have a right to or that I was setting policy.

    And if you were using a pseudonym to simply make your argument, I wouldn’t have said squat. But when you hide behind a pseudonym when you make unfounded charges against another, its clearly gutless.

    You have a higher bar to reach when reporting negatively than when reporting positively. Good news, even when it is puffy gossip, at least causes no harm. Bad news can very easily damage both reader and subject — where should the line be drawn?

    As I explained above, this question isn’t easy to answer. I attempted to answer as best I can.

    But your attitude clearly shows in how you ask the question. I suspect that you would say that less news is generally better — that “negative” news should be hidden.

    I disagree. In general, more information is better. I’m not even sure what negative is in most situations. What you see as “negative” can be positive in another light. To the public in the U.S. the Book of Mormon, polygamy and Mormonism in general was (and still is in some places) a “negative” news story.

    In my view, if covering the trial of the counselor in the stake presidency means that one more person is cautious and avoids being taken in a ponzi scheme, that is very positive. And, more importantly, if it means that one potential perpetrator hesitates and doesn’t get into such a scheme, then we all have gained. Isn’t that positive?

  59. Kent G. Budge on October 14, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    While there is much to be said for balance, I’m going to put a very slight damper on the enthusiasm for bad news here with an important observation: Bad news attracts the eye. Hence, bad news will always swamp ten times its weight in good news.

    Human beings love spectacle, and, short of war, what is more spectacular that scandal and corruption? You know the old news saying: “If it bleeds, it leads.” So ten acts of personal sacrifice can’t command the attention given one act of gross sinfulness. So I’m not sure it’s really possible to have “balance” between the two kinds of stories.

    Hey, don’t ask me for the answer. I just lob grenades, I don’t wait around to see where the shrapnel goes.

  60. defending friend on October 15, 2008 at 12:50 am

    #22: I was in that person’s ward at the time of everything happening and knew his family. He remained a great person, continued in temple attendance,etc and last I heard, presently serves in leadership capacity. Whatever one error someone makes, doesn’t wipe out all the good they do. If the media doesn’t make an LDS link, I don’t know that it is necessary in all cases.

    However some previous posters have expressed well the need to mention the LDS link when it is directly linked to the news event.

  61. GC on October 15, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Very interesting topic! I’ll admit that I did not read through all of the comments, so if I duplicate here, forgive me.

    I personally like the idea of being informed, negative or postive. But I do know that not everyone within the church feels this way.

    Example….
    I conducted an Elders Quorum discussion this last week on King Folletts Discourse. As a part of that discussion (lesson), I had prepared some material on the “Downplaying of King Folletts Discourse”. This particular article (URL below) took some criticism of the Church and King Folletts Discourse and discounted it. So I went to clear it with the my Bishop prior to Preisthood meeting and he asked that I not include it – because of the criticism (even though it was discounted).

    As it turned out, the discussion on King Folletts went great, and we didn’t need the extra material. But I find it very interesting that he didn’t want any thing brought into the discussion that could be construed as critical.

    http://en.fairmormon.org/Downplaying_the_King_Follett_Discourse

    Note… In the link above, there are 2 quotes from President Hinkley that are great to read. My testimony mirrors the second specifically.

  62. Kent Larsen on October 17, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    For anyone interested in the case underlying this discussion, the counselor in the stake presidency was found guilty on more than 90% of the charges against him.

    Very sad.

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