Leadership Roulette

By: hawkgrrrl
July 9, 2013

Luck be a bishop tonight!

As I’ve said previously, in a church with 32,000 bishops, they can’t all be winners.  The term leadership roulette refers to when you encounter a bad leader, someone who does what folks on the internet call “ecclesiastical abuse” like manipulating you with threats or taking unwarranted actions against you.  Especially for those who feel insecure about their doubts or their position in the church, running into a bad leader can be a fatal move.

Why is it called Leader Roulette?  Whenever you interact with a leader, the outcome could be good, bad or neutral.  In the church, local leaders are given a lot of latitude in how they handle issues like temple recommends, tithing settlement, reactivation efforts, issuing callings, marriage counseling, providing pastoral care, and welfare support.

  • Casino Roulette.  Casino roulette is a game that has the worst odds among common casino games with a 47:1 payoff.  It is extremely unlikely to hit your number, but if you do, the payoff is really big.  If this metaphor is used ironically, it would mean that while your chances of running into a “bad” leader are slim, the payoff (punishment) is big if you do.
  • Russian Roulette.  In this “game,” a single bullet is placed in one of the six chambers of a handgun and then participants take turn firing the gun at their head.  Odds are 1 in 6 you die.

In online communities we’ve learned that there is a range of “normal” experience as members interact with their local leaders, and then there are outliers.  It’s one of the great values of belonging to internet discussion groups, the ability to assess whether one’s experience is normative or unique.  All over the internet, people share stories that can be described as Leader Roulette, situations that most bishops or leaders would treat differently, but that are so bungled and mishandled that the comparison to being shot in the head may be apt.  Consequences could be having your TR revoked or not signed despite answering the questions satisfactorily, someone divulging confidential information about you, allowing domestic or sexual abuse to continue unchecked, or actually committing some sort of abusive action.  Here are a few examples of stories people shared:

  • A bishop policing Facebook status updates and taking action against someone’s membership based on the same.
  • A YW leader being released and shamed for breast-feeding while in the YW room.
  • A bishop taking a temple recommend because of someone’s political views, stance on gay marriage, or asking sincere questions about church history despite that person being able to answer the “behavior” temple recommend questions satisfactorily.
  • A relief society president threatening to take someone’s temple recommend away for asking not to be a visiting teacher.
  • A bishop accusing someone of not paying tithing based on amounts reported and asking to dig deeper into the person’s finances.

Playing the odds when dealing with local leaders

Not all leaders are good at it or experienced to handle every situation.  Sometimes someone is just the best available or they need the calling to help them grow or they are just a mistake!  What can we do about leadership roulette before you make a mis-step?

  • Don’t confide in someone you don’t know.  Trust first, then confide.  Sounds trite, but follow the spirit.  Some leaders are just not ready to deal with you or your situation.  That’s OK.  Use discernment.  It’s why you have the Holy Ghost, right?
  • Beware of power trips.  How do you know if someone is on a power trip?  Follow the spirit.  Ask friends you trust.  Notice how the leader talks about authority and how well that person listens.
  • Check your own ego at the door.  Obviously,  it’s not right for a leader to use “unrighteous dominion.”  There’s a reason the Doctrine & Covenants warns about it and predicts that most people fall prey to it.  I’ve learned from experience that fighting ego with ego doesn’t work at all in a hierarchical organization.

Too late – now you have a bullet in your head.  What do you do?

  • De-escalate the situation if you can.  Can you defuse the problem with a reasonable conversation?  That’s always the best place to start.  Perhaps this person has misunderstood you, not listened well, is applying the wrong solution, or has otherwise jumped to a wrong conclusion.  Remember that they (like you) are looking for the best outcome.
  • Know what you want.  Now that you are in this conflict, what is the outcome you desire?  To have your temple recommend restored?  To be treated well in future?  Be clear about what you want from the situation, and then you can find out what the leader wants.  Hopefully you can find a win-win.
  • Listen closely to find out what the leader wants.  Do they want to protect the flock?  Explain how you want this too (if you do).  Do they want you to explain something to them?  Is there a misunderstanding or lack of information?  Do they want to see you are humble?  Ask probing questions and listen well (and as unemotionally as you can – a tall order at times) to find out what they want.  If it’s reasonable, you can find common ground.  If it’s not reasonable, you can explain calmly why it’s not.
  • Know your rights.  What is actual written church policy?  Consult others to find out what is normal and reasonable if you aren’t sure.  Then you have grounds to open a dialogue with the leader.  You can calmly explain what you understand the correct procedure to be and let him or her reply.
  • Escalate if you have to and think it will help.  Start with the SP, but go to the Area Authority if you need to.  The problem is that many will refer it back to the offending bishop (if indeed it is the bishop).  Be aware that could happen, and be ready for it.

Have you ever lost the Leader Roulette?  How did you handle it?  What are your recommendations for those that lose the Leader Roulette?

Discuss.

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89 Responses to Leadership Roulette

  1. Will on July 9, 2013 at 7:53 AM

    Great post Hawk.

    The Lord’s command applies best here “many are called, but few are chosen…and why are they not chosen, because there hearts are set on the things of the world…”

    We must not forget that these leaders are just men and say and do stupid things. My brother was just called as a Stake President. It is really weird for me because I know all of this follies. He is a great guy and will serve the people in his stake well, but to me he is different because I know of his weaknesses better than his stake members.

    My advise is the same as Paul’s (Apostle), follow them as they follow God.

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  2. Jeff Spector on July 9, 2013 at 7:56 AM

    I’ve been very fortunate that most of my Bishops and Stake Presidents have been excellent over the more than 30 years I’ve been in the Church. I’ve only had one I’ve had issues with, but not personally but the way things in the Ward were handled and the way the Bishop interacted (or didn’t) with my kids and the youth in general.

    However, in many cases, the appointments of Bishops can be very political just like any other organization. And it doesn’t always apply that the “Lord’s choice” is the one who is called.

    And the other hand, if we believe the adage “Whom the Lord Calls, the Lord qualifies” I suppose the person needs to want to be “qualified.” They have the choice to step up to the role or not.

    And, since the Church seems to value the corporate executives and lawyers versus farmers and teachers, we are potentially in danger of getting leaders that just know how to operate in that environment.

    Ultimately, we need ministers and pastors, not administrators and managers.

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  3. Howard on July 9, 2013 at 8:13 AM

    Yes, I lost in Leader Roulette. My mistake was to trust that my Bishop was truly open and available to provide spiritual guidance as I attempted to reenter the church after having been excommunicated many years prior. Unknown to me at the time; he had little access to the Spirit and didn’t trust that I was enjoying much more inspiration and revelation than he was. He blamed the Stake President for my slow progress; I had been re-baptized but couldn’t successfully get an audience through him with the SP for restoration of blessings and when I insisted and met with the SP I was returned to my Bishop. After 3 years of this B.S. including repeatedly being interviewed for every worthiness list of questions he could remotely relate to me including Youth and TR questions I finally learned the truth, it wasn’t the SP holding me back at all, it was my Bishop and he had lied about it! By then I had moved to another Stake but my records had been tagged by him and my 1 1/2 years of effort in the new Stake were mostly focused on reviewing my interaction with the problem Bishop!

    Prior to starting this pharisaical odyssey I had been led by the Spirit through 18 months of in depth repentance. So I found myself in an odd position, I was square with the Lord and I knew it but I wasn’t square with the church! Why? Apparently because I had shared too much with my Bishop. My advise: 1) keep your mouth shut if you value you church membership 2) why would you want to be a member of an organization that puts you at risk if you share???

    Simply put: Blacks can’t hold the priesthood. =/= Blacks can hold the priesthood. =/= The Lord Will Never Permit the Living Prophet to Lead the Church Astray. Clearly there is something wrong here. The church is adrift. It has lost it’s way because it no longer believes in crisp guidance from the Spirit instead believing in the self fulfilling prophecy that the spirit is barely discernible and easily flees neither of which are true.

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  4. KLC on July 9, 2013 at 8:19 AM

    In the bloggernacle unique behavior becomes normative; outliers, because they are discussed so much, are assumed to be the norm by people unable or unwilling to honestly question the data.

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  5. Howard on July 9, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    I know a woman who also lost in Leader Roulette. Two of her children were exposed to lewd behavior by her Bishop and when she reported it we was not believed. Later that Bishop went to jail for some similar charge.

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  6. Howard on July 9, 2013 at 8:22 AM

    Why am I in moderation?

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  7. Howard on July 9, 2013 at 8:30 AM

    Yes, I lost in Leader Roulette. My mistake was to trust that my Bishop was truly open and available to provide spiritual guidance as I attempted to reenter the church after having been excommunicated many years prior. Unknown to me at the time; he had little access to the Spirit and didn’t trust that I was enjoying much more inspiration and revelation than he was. He blamed the Stake President for my slow progress; I had been re-baptized but couldn’t successfully get an audience through him with the SP for restoration of blessings and when I insisted and met with the SP I was returned to my Bishop. After 3 years of this B.S. including repeatedly being interviewed for every worthiness list of questions he could remotely relate to me including Youth and TR questions I finally learned the truth, it wasn’t the SP holding me back at all, it was my Bishop and he had lied about it! By then I had moved to another Stake but my records had been tagged by him and my 1 1/2 years of effort in the new Stake were mostly focused on reviewing my interaction with the problem Bishop!

    Prior to starting this pharisaical odyssey I had been led by the Spirit through 18 months of in depth repentance. So I found myself in an odd position, I was square with the Lord and I knew it but I wasn’t square with the church! Why? Apparently because I had shared too much with my Bishop. My advise: 1) keep your mouth shut if you value you church membership 2) why would you want to be a member of an organization that puts you at risk if you share???

    Simply put: Blacks can’t hold the priesthood. =/= Blacks can hold the priesthood. =/= The Lord Will Never Permit the Living Prophet to Lead the Church Astray. Clearly there is something wrong here. The church is adrift. It has lost it’s way because it no longer believes in crisp guidance from the Spirit instead believing in the self fulfilling prophecy that the spirit is barely discernible and easily flees neither of which are true.

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  8. NDM on July 9, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    I can introduce you to people who will tell you I was the best bishop they ever had, and I can introduce you to people who will tell you I was the worst bishop they ever had. I tried my best and I did some good things and I made some well-intentioned mistakes that still keep me up nights a decade later. I hate that phrase, “the father of the ward.” The bishop is not the father of the ward. He’s just the sibling who’s been ordered to keep the house clean until it’s another brother’s turn.

    Thank goodness, I’ve never had an abusive bishop. The worst bishop I ever had (also one of my very dearest friends) was simply chaotic. No one could plan on anything. Even Sacrament Meeting might be an hour this week, two and a half hours next week, speakers added or subtracted at random as whims that he mistook for the Spirit might direct. He’s also the only bishop I ever had to raise my hand in opposition to, when he made a rather serious procedural mistake that had to be corrected on the spot, both for propriety’s sake and to avert offense. But he meant well.

    The vast majority of cases I know where a bishop has overreached were resolved between the member and the bishop, even when the member was sure the bishop would not be receptive. Most of the rest were resolved with the help of the stake president. I only knew one case to be escalated to an Area authority, who reviewed it and referred it to the stake president (appropriately, in my opinion).

    Our bishops are human. We should keep that in mind.

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  9. Dave on July 9, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    Great discussion, hawkgrrrl. In hinting at the same thing in the past, I have used the term “cowboy bishop, ” that one in thirty or forty or fifty bishops who just want to do it their own way, regardless of what the Handbook or common sense has to say about it. But I like leadership roulette as well.

    You can extend this roulette metaphor a bit. Not only are there occasionial big loser outcomes, there are occasional big winner outcomes, say when a member has a particular situation or problem that would not be resolved, perhaps even noticed, by many bishops but is noticed by the right bishop in the right place at the right time for this person’s particular problem.

    And it’s worth adding a note of caution about using online anecdotes about problem bishops to paint a picture of an overall general or systemic problem. While I admit there are problem bishops out there in the real world, there are always two sides (or more) to the kind of bad outcomes recounted in these anecdotal online stories. Quite often the person recounting their problematic encounter with a bishop is not the innocent victim of ecclesiastical abuse one might think based on their story. Some people can be quite difficult, but at the same time rather oblivious to how difficult they can be to deal with. Some people can be downright dishonest in recounting their story, and sometimes rather oblivious to the extent of their own dishonesty. So while in theory I agree there are problem bishops here or there, I’m thinking about nine times out of ten (maybe 99 out of 100) the person complaining about how they were treated is the biggest part of the problem. It’s a real mistake to take online griping at face value.

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  10. Mormon Heretic on July 9, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    Howard, I don’t know why. It looks like our spam filter was a little too tight, but it should be fixed now.

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  11. Howard on July 9, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    Thanks MH!

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  12. Howard on July 9, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Now my comments are disappearing.

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  13. Howard on July 9, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    NDM and Dave,
    I appreciate your comments and views. Bishop must be a very demanding calling. Sure, members can be difficult to work with and dishonest but well, so can Bishops. After all they’re just members themselves. The problem is a Bishop can defiantly screw up your church life and your non-church life as well. Most people seem to just try to ride out a problem Bishop but in some cases that really isn’t enough. My Bishop marked my record making my church life very difficult and he was dishonest to boot. My friend’s Bishop abused her kids making both her church and non-church life a mess and the church didn’t believe her when she reported it! Members need an effective appeal system with an advocate that is empowered to go up the ladder for resolution. For every case you know of that was resolved well within the system I probably know of one that wasn’t.

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  14. NewlyHousewife on July 9, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    I think the way the current system is set up (like Howard said) is designed to fail many, and save a few. Those who have had their issues resolved I found no longer had an emotional attachment to said issue (IE: the YW leader released because of breastfeeding eventually decided breastfeeding was more important than chaperoning young women). Those who had a great emotional investment into their conflict (such as Howard’s case) are more likely to give up and leave than to try to climb up the ladder numerous times before coming to a resolution.

    It’s exhausting to constantly go back to your Bishop, SP, Area Authority in loops trying to solve the problem at hand–a problem you are likely the only one affected by–especially if you’re female. Those who are able to fight through the loops make great strides for the rest of us, but the majority will give up at some point out of sheer exhaustion.

    The only practical advice I can give for people currently in a game of leadership roulette is to get everything documented. Write an email stating your case and hope for a decent response. And if all else fails, the media loves stuff like this.

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  15. NewlyHousewife on July 9, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    I too am having my comments await moderation. Is “roulette” a spam-flagging term?

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  16. Tres on July 9, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    Wait, I must be really uninformed….but, what does it mean to have your “records marked”.

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  17. Mormon Heretic on July 9, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    Newly Housewife, perhaps you are onto something there. I know that gambling websites are notorious for spamming, so perhaps that is why more comments are being moderated than normal.

    Tres, when a person gets disfellowshipped, the church records are marked in case the member moves to another stake to inform the future bishop. Recently, John Dehlin discovered that church records can also be marked so that if a person indicates they are gay, then the church will not allow them to work with youth. Church records can be marked for other reasons too. Some members who are overly outspoken about certain topics (often political or questioning church doctrine) have their records marked so that bishops can no longer let them teach ANY classes, so they are often given “less important” callings. These notations of records have been going on for years, but of course the most drastic action is to excommunicate like they did the September Six.

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  18. Andrew S on July 9, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    Hi, everyone. I just wanted to point out that our spam filter is pretty much full of terms relating either to a) male enhancement products and b) gambling terms.

    Unfortunately, “roulette” assuredly is on the list.

    We’ll try to fish comments out of spam when we see them…

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  19. Martin on July 9, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    I’ve heard a lot of “out there” ecclesiastical abuse stories, and I’m convinced that in most cases there’s got to be more to the story. After all, anyone can take their complaints to the ward rumor mill, the internet, or even to the media (as per Newly Housewife’s suggestion), and the bishop can’t really respond.

    I can easily see people complaining to the bishop about the breastfeeding woman in YW, and despite people’s strong opinions on the matter, I don’t think there’s a clear right-or-wrong, God’s-will answer here. But the bishop has to address the discord and asks her to stop, and she defiantly refuses. Now what? She feels her rights trump others’ cultural discomfort and that her judgment trumps the bishop’s. That’s fine, but he’s got to deal with it, so he releases her from her calling. After all, it might actually be the YW president complaining, and discord among the YW leaders doesn’t make for a good program. She takes it to the internet as ecclesiastical abuse. Her rights were violated, she says, and he really can’t respond (or at least, probably shouldn’t). I don’t know the real story — maybe the bishop is just horrified by breasts, but I doubt it.

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  20. Howard on July 9, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    … so they are often given “less important” callings. Yes indeed, I was called as “sacrament greeter” to hand out programs. I waited a long time for that calling, I followed the well loved ward retarded guy after he moved away. It was sold to me as an opportunity to meet new people!

    The church operates on a divide and conquer principle. Minorities such as gays, feminists and activists are quietly cut out of the main herd by local leadership, marginalized and then left out until they finally drop out and then of course, they are labeled apostates. Each step is all very Christian-like but the result is like a slow motion bum’s rush. It’s so quite and slick TBMs don’t even notice!

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  21. whizzbang on July 9, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    I have had 4 Bishops who are and were TERRIBLE. yet, I have had two who were just awesome! yet those two I doubt would be called into Stake Presidencies despite being amazing human beings. We are dealing with a terrible Bishop now, he got called maybe 18 months ago and so we are in for the long haul. Ward councils are a total joke, he micromanages everything, has a paper fetish, you tell him in person about something then he wants it written out in an email and then he’ll call you about it.To him and one of his councilors policies are always I hate working with him, everyone on the ward council does as well. he takes too long to talk about too little. We all wrote a letter to the stake presidency but nothing has changed. But I have flaws too and I am fully aware of them.

    this isn’t the Bishop who beat his kids, exed his own daughter after he kicked her out (she didn’t live in the ward boundaries anymore) or the Bishop who molested his daughter, cheated on his wife (she complained to the Stake Pres. but was told ‘oh, he’s a good man he wouldn’t do such things) and was called into a Temple Pres. regardless. Nor is it the Bishop who gave ‘advice’ to further his own ego, he wanted to be a Stake President or a GA. he was So insecure, he pushed people on missions and marriages and it backfired, again and again and again. he moved out when he wasn’t called to be the Stake President. Like Kurt Cobain said ‘Forever in debt to your priceless advice’ some of are divorced because we believed that nonsense he gave us, but you don’t question a Bishop right?

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  22. Troth Everyman on July 9, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    By far the majority of my bishops (I’ve had over 10) have been amazing men with good intentions. I have loved some of them deeply. Only one was poor. Despite that he was a super nice guy, he could not keep anything confidential. Everyone’s confessions became public news almost instantly. I was counting the days until we could move out. I found out later he didn’t last long as bishop after we moved. Good intentions doesn’t always good bishop make.

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  23. Hawkgrrrl on July 9, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    I agree with those who point out that there is always more to the story, or even could just be that a certain bishop doesn’t like you for some reason. It doesn’t always equate to ecclesiastic abuse. Some people just lack social grace.

    I’ve been lucky in that although I have had a few bishops who were awkward or less awesome, I’ve never had the gun pointed at my head with a bad bishop. It also helps to be comfortable in your own skin and diplomatic.

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  24. whizzbang on July 9, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    I would say the one Bishop who did those things while as a Bishop equates to ecclesiastical abuse, that man was a tyrant and should have been in Jail. He has 4 sons, all 4 served missions but only one is active, his oldest son is 40 plus and still have cut marks on his back I know because I saw them. The other Bishop molested his daughter and cheated prior to his calling and his wife kept quiet because who would believe her, it was the old boys club

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  25. Hedgehog on July 10, 2013 at 1:27 AM

    Well, mostly I’ve had Bishop’s who were doing their best most of the time, which isn’t to say I haven’t locked horns a couple of times.
    I think the occasion I was most at risk was an ex-Bishop high councillor, who didn’t seem to recognise he had zero presiding authority, and made complaints to the stake. That was one weird week in my life. Only the spirit let me know what was going on, noone spoke to me. I knew I was at risk, I knew when that risk had lessened, and certainly recognised the ‘test’ posed by the most appropriate member of the stake presidency the following week for precisely what it was.

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  26. Rockies Gma on July 10, 2013 at 1:52 AM

    My Bishops have all been wonderful! Seriously. But then, if I have marital problems, I go to a marriage counselor. If I have problems with a teenager, I go to an adolescent counselor. If I have questions about doctrine, I go to excellent books written by great LDS minds. I go to the Bishop for tithing settlement.

    Bishops aren’t trained to solve our problems. They aren’t trained to counsel us either. They aren’t there to listen to our problems. They don’t have crystal balls, and they aren’t prophets. They’re just good guys trying to do a million things for the ward while being husband, dad, and provider. Some handle such stress better than others. And I guess some are not so great. But I would rather see more members try to solve problems by other means than through a beleaguered Bishop who has no skills for our personal issues. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t care — he just isn’t qualified. If that spammy “r” word is a crap shoot, then my best counsel is don’t play the game. Don’t go to him, go to someone qualified to help. You know what I mean. Leave him alone, the poor guy. Seriously.

    We so readily criticize, pick apart, and find fault. Yes, sometimes bad things are done. But Bishops can’t win for losing. Members gripe about every. thing. to them, and expect results yester. day. Breastfeeding?! In front of young girls?! Bishop, do something! He has to fix your gripes, your issues, your conflicts when oftentimes you could/should have done it yourself. I have lived through my guy being Bishop twice. Most of the ward loved him. But there were 2-3 each time who “abused” him. They hounded him daily, they flat out lied about things he said, they slandered him, and dug a pit for him…… And there’s nowhere for him to go when he’s the one victimized.

    Yes, Hawkgrrl, a very few have been bad apples. But some members are, too. In fact, far more so than the bishops. Your suggestions were spot on for resolution.

    I just grow weary of ecclesiastical abuse posts when never having ever read a single parishioner abuse post.

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  27. hawkgrrrl on July 10, 2013 at 2:56 AM

    Rockies Gma, very well said! I also agree there aren’t many who will cop to parishioner abuse. Turnabout is fair play. I do not like the tendency to go to the bishop for every little thing, or really for just about anything.

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  28. Geoff - A on July 10, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    In the last 35 years I’ve had 1 really good Bishop, 2 reasonably good some unmemorable and 4 disasters. It seems that since we have had Area Presidencies, the requirements for Bishop has become more about obedience, sending messages downward, and being conservative politically. (which the 2 other requirements confirm).

    The really good Bishop was before Area Presidencies, I was his councillor, he went to University to learn Hebrew language and culture so he could understand the scriptures. While he was Bishop there was spirit of inclusion and Love in the ward. The ward was also in a very liberal/progressive/ arty area.

    In the same ward we had a bishop called who had previously been a SP, and aspired to be again, he was disappointed to be called as Bishop, again I was called as councillor. He went inactive after a couple of months and I became acting bishop for 12 months, when another more conservative individual was called, who was eventually released because he was paying his personal bills with fast offering contributions.

    After moving to a more conservative area we had the most conservative but least experienced priesthood holder called as Bishop. At the time we had a stake newsletter, written by a person who had his own right to life political party/lobby group. There was public discussion about a euthanasia bill in parliament at the time, and one newsletter was completely devoted to his views on it. When I pointed out to the SP that the news letter was spreading false propaganda, he told me to write a correction. He gave a copy to my Bishop who was also extremely conservative. The Bishop was a high school teacher and was trying to have sex education removed from the school. I was president of the P&C and after having the sex education programme presented to the P&C we thought it was pretty good. He appeared at my door one night with a letter accusing me of Apostasy and inviting me to a church court. Luckily I was a HP and he could not excommunicate me, I took it to the SP who basically did nothing. The Bishop went inactive in protest when I was not excommunicated, and I was called as a councillor to his successor.

    Recently the HP leader sent to the ward email list some anti gay marriage material which came from the news letter writer in the previous saga. I replied to the same membership list questioning the assertions in the letter. I did not say I supported gay marriage just questioned the assertions of those opposing it. When I next went for a TR interview the Bishop had been supplied with underlined printouts of my communication with the HP leader. I answered all the questions in the TR interview, then the Bishop told me he wasn’t giving me a recommend because I did not support my P’hood leaders. It took the SP (a different one, who also had copies of my emails) 4 months to convince the Bishop to give me the recommend. For the next 12 months the Bishop and his family did not speak to my wife or myself. He was then released, after 7 years, and called into a new Stake Presidency.

    We have a pretty good Bishop now.

    My experience is that I have had more bad bishops than good, and a few unmemorable ones. The conservative Bishops seem to think enforcing their beliefs is more important than retaining members or loving people. It did not feel like these were men trying their best to do good, but men with power trying to make people believe their conservative version of the Church.

    They did not accept that there was a difference between the Gospel and Church, or that the Church carried some culture with it that had nothing to do with the Gospel. If a priesthood leader had said it, it was Gospel, and not to be questioned, just obeyed. They could not accept that it was possible to be a member and not believe as they did. They had an exclusive view of the church.

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  29. Howard on July 10, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    Where do we get the idea of approaching our Bishop for counsel? Elder Hales in his The Mantle of a Bishop GC talk refers to a Bishop’s mantle and power of discernment adding All members of the Church can turn to their bishops when they are in need of help and can feel secure in his love for them and can have confidence in following his counsel.. But in my experience not all Bishops enjoy the power of discernment and since they do hold the power to blackball your church progress I would be very careful about approaching them for anything that isn’t routine. I would not share personal revelation with them. An oddity of the church is in spite of it’s mystical supernatural beginnings each member seem to be suspicious of anyone who seems to enjoy more or different inspiration or revelation than they do. Sharing anything profound with your Bishop has as much chance of putting you outside the tent and being joyfully embraced. If you do decide to share be very sure to present in in approved Mormon-speak and Mormon-format or you may be viewed has mentally ill or as being connected to the dark side.

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  30. hawkgrrrl on July 10, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    Geoff, those are some crazy stories, but worth telling. Thank you.

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  31. whizzbang on July 10, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    I like Elder Joe J. Christensen’s advice that Bishops are sheperds but not veterinarians. I would NEVER go to my Bishop for counsel or advice. When I was going through my divorce my Bishop said that he was a tech at the CBC and not a marriage counselour so he reffered my to someone who knew what he was talking about-forever grateful to that Bishop!

    I don’t know either where we get the idea that we need to go to the Bishop for counsel, didn’t Pres. Packer warn about ‘counselitis’ in his talk ‘Solving emotional problems the Lord’s way’?

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  32. Naismith on July 10, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    Loved Rockies Gma’s ideas. I think the church totally supports the view that professionals should deal with many problems rather than the bishop. We live in the hinterlands, and didn’t used to have access to LDS social services, but they have made a huge effort to make services available, sending someone here every other week. This has the potential to take a huge burden off the bishop’s plate.

    As an RS president, I was involved a few times when a sister called in tears because the bishop had said this or that. There were always two sides to every story.

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  33. Nick Literski on July 10, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    #20:
    I was called as “sacrament greeter” to hand out programs. I waited a long time for that calling, I followed the well loved ward retarded guy after he moved away. It was sold to me as an opportunity to meet new people!

    LOL! That reminds me of when I was in a married LDS student ward at Utah State University. There was a push for every member to have a calling at the time. My elders’ quorum president approached me with great gravitas, informing me that “THE LORD” wanted me to be the Elders’ Quorum Hymn Book Coordinator! (Translation: Some of us are too damn lazy to put our books away after the meeting, so your “calling” is to pick up the books and put them on the shelf after EQ meeting.) If he’d just asked me to do it, I’d have been happy to help. Making it a big deal about what “THE LORD” wanted from me, on the other hand, was kind of demeaning–felt like that must be all I was good for–a completely “made up” calling, doing a “made up” job!

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  34. Howard on July 10, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    In a different ward I was called to share the calling of ward librarian with the mentally retarded guy who had been called much earlier than I. I repaired some stuff and organized the visual aids so they could be quickly and easily found. But mostly the job amounted to hurriedly handing out fistfuls of chalk and erasers just before class as my mentally retarded partner showed my customers his car keys as spun yarns about the Maseratis, Lamborghinis and Porsches he claimed to own!

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  35. Jeff Spector on July 10, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    Howard,

    I am wonder what this all says about you by referring to a “mentally retarded guy” in such a demeaning fashion?

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  36. Dog lover on July 10, 2013 at 3:48 PM

    It is amazing to me that the Bishops I’ve had have been as good as they have been. I’ve had a few poor ones but to my knowledge didn’t do any permanent damage to anyone.

    And I’ll second Jeff’s comment about Howard referring it someone with mental challenges in such a disrespectful manner.

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  37. Howard on July 10, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    Jeff,
    It was descriptive of the guy and the situation, sorry but I never knew his diagnosis. What was demeaning about it? What politically correct term do you or Dog Lover perfer?

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  38. natebergin on July 10, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    I can understand Hawkgrrrl’s gaurdedness towards Bishops, as they obviously are quite prone to error.

    But this is sad. Ideally, I think bishops should be trusted. They should be there to give council and advice in all kinds of difficult situations. Sure, it’s cool to have “professionals,” if you can afford them, or if they exist in the country or time you live in, but in the past, this role was always supposed to be for your religious leader.

    We know that bishops screw up all the time. But I think this is part of the program. The Lord calls imperfect men, and they learn on the job. And we learn from the trial of “ecclesiastical abuse.” One of the greatest trials in life is “the trial of the church.” But like other trials, I think this trial is one that God prepares for some of His children, as a way to teach them and test their faith. There are elements of the church that are supposed to be “a stumblingblock” or “a rock of offense,” and deliberately run by “weak and simple” people.

    And when we have to put up with ecclesiastical abuse, we may even be blessed for enduring it with grace and dignity, like Levi Savage and the Wille Handcart Company. God knew those mistakes would be made, but He still allowed it to happen by allowing those people to be called to Priesthood positions of authority. In the end, it was a great spiritual blessing for everyone, even though it was preceeded by the most foolhardy kind of leadership and unrighteous dominion, leading to an unprecedented physical disaster.

    And having said all of that, I think that bishops in general do much more good than harm.

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  39. Nick Literski on July 10, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    What if your deity is testing you with “ecclesiastical abuse,” to see whether you will stand up for yourself like the child of a powerful deity, and refuse to stand for such treatment? Maybe the lesson in the experience is to stand for truth and justice? Why should you assume that the lesson is “How to submit like a pethetic wounded puppy?”

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  40. Howard on July 10, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    …like Levi Savage and the Wille Handcart Company. God knew those mistakes would be made, but He still allowed it to happen by allowing those people to be called to Priesthood positions of authority. In the end, it was a great spiritual blessing for everyone Well this is a very nice thought and an upbeat spin to a disaster but I question this folklore. I seriously doubt my non-member g-g-grandmother Eliza Chapman Gadd found great spiritual blessings in loosing her husband and two sons Daniel age 2 and Samuel age 10. After watching them die she was left to raise her other seven kids alone! Adversity provides the opportunity and motivation to grow but too much adversity just results in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which I’ve never found to be very spiritual.

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  41. Nick Literski on July 10, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    Ugh….Should read “pathetic” in #39, of course!

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  42. hawkgrrrl on July 10, 2013 at 9:15 PM

    Nick, FTW! I have often thought that. Which one is ready for godhood? The one who seeks a win-win through self advocacy and listening or the one who encourages bad behavior by deferring to tyrants?

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  43. RickH on July 11, 2013 at 12:43 AM

    My story isn’t as cool as some of yours, but here goes…

    I had been meeting with the Bishop fairly regularly for a while and he asked me how my scripture reading was going, and was there anything i would like to share. So I mentioned where Nephi spoke of “two churches only” and suggested that perhaps, since the church of the devil is often called “the whore of all the earth” the people who are members of that church are those who pursue financial gain as their overriding goal in life. I also said that under this interpretation, there would be plenty of members of our church who actually belong to the church of the devil and that some people who aren’t baptized are in fact members of the Lord’s church. Without missing a beat, he turned to a scripture saying that the only way to join the Lord’s church was to be baptized and that those who aren’t baptized aren’t on the path (or something). I put on my best poker face, said “OK,” and never shared anything personal with him again.

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  44. Hedgehog on July 11, 2013 at 1:12 AM

    I’m thinking the whole idea of bishop as a spiritual leader is a bit odd given that we’re told it is an office in the Aaronic Priesthood, and that the presiding bishopric are there to deal with temporal affairs. But it would then beg the question whether a ward actually has a spiritual leader…

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  45. Howard on July 11, 2013 at 5:40 AM

    GC Talk: Seek Out Your Spiritual Leader – Gene R. Cook 70
    …One of the great blessings of this church is that everyone has a spiritual leader to whom he should direct himself. In the case of a father, his children and wife will want to consult him as the spiritual leader in their home. If the matter needs further attention, the wife and children do not go to a priesthood quorum leader, as the husband might on some priesthood matters. They counsel with the bishop or branch president. If there is a problem in the marriage, the husband and wife go to their bishop for he presides over both of them as the bishop and presiding high priest over the ward. They need not go elsewhere, unless otherwise directed by the bishop, for additional guidance.

    After enumerating various spiritual gifts, the Lord provides this counsel concerning your bishop or any other presiding priesthood leader: “And unto the bishop of the church, and unto such as God shall appoint and ordain to watch over the church and to be elders unto the church, are to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God.” (D&C 46:27.) It is abundantly clear that presiding priesthood leaders are given the gift of discernment.

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  46. Jeff Spector on July 11, 2013 at 8:15 AM

    RickH,

    I like your interpretation of that scripture better than your Bishop. In the same way, we dismiss the idea that all you need to do is confess your sins and you are saved, being Baptized, is, in fact, just a starting point, not any kind of an end in itself. In fact, those who are baptized into the Church, but are not in alignment or obedient to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel, are supposed to be worse off than those who were never baptized at all.

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  47. Jeff Spector on July 11, 2013 at 8:19 AM

    Howard,

    “What politically correct term do you or Dog Lover prefer?’

    I don’t prefer any politically correct term, only a manner of respect for the other person. I thought you were demeaning to the guy.

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  48. Hedgehog on July 11, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    Howard #45, Well I realise that – just doesn’t seem to make logical sense, given the temporal – spiritual split I’ve heard/seen discussed elsewhere.

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  49. ANON on July 11, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    Rockies GMA is right about ward members having potential to abuse/take advantage of bishop. Our current bishop is an incredibly kind, compassionate, and mild-mannered man who loves his family and tries to serve the best way he can. My DH used to make his appointments and there was always a handful of members, one family in particular, calling every few days demanding an immediate appointment and becoming irate because my husband was at work and couldn’t return the phone call for a few hours. We also had people over share about why they needed a particular appointment–sometimes even messages left on my answering machine describing their problems in detail! One family in particular was so demanding/needy I am sure it was a relief to the bishop (and RS president) when they moved.

    I also witnessed a very bizarre incident in which a sister who had severe emotional and social issues made an accusation against another male ward member and this sister’s friend marched up to the bishop right after sacrament meeting in front of everyone to loudly discuss it. The incident was really disconcerting for everyone who witnessed it; I don’t doubt that this sister was hurting but her accusation had no basis in reality and should not have been handled in this manner. The bishop at the time was completely flabbergasted as it was clearly out of his skill set to handle a woman with severe mental health issues.

    Also this past Sunday I witnessed an elderly woman accosting our bishop in the hall to loudly discuss a particular sister who she claimed was in need of serious help. I appreciate this woman’s concern but seriously do this behind closed doors for privacy and dignity please.

    And then of course we have a few sisters who appear to have a mental breakdown every month during fast and testimony meeting. Considering what they are willing to say in front of the entire ward and lay at their feet it is easy to imagine how demanding and inappropriate a conversation with the bishop or RS president behind closed doors would get.

    That being said I did have a turd of a bishop in the past but the rest of been normal men trying to do their best.

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  50. Howard on July 11, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    Jeff wrote: I thought you were demeaning to the guy. Yes I got that from your previous comment. I disagree and had no intent to demean only describe so I’m asking you to raise my consciousness by clearly explaining and rewriting the offending lines so they convey the same story without “demeaning the guy” in your mind.

    Dog Lover seems to like mentally challenged in place of mentally retarded. Challenged vs retarded? Aren’t they just two sides of the same coin? Retarded addresses where he appears to be relative to normal. Are we really that sensitive to the autonomous use of of the word retarded which means held back or delayed which he actually appeared to be? Challenged on the other hand assumes he’s attempting to be normal which I saw no evidence of, he didn’t appear challenged to me. If you ask me challenged is just a politically correct misnomer here.

    Hedgehog,
    I think it comes from the bishop being the presiding high priest in the ward.

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  51. Howard on July 11, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    ANON wrote:…but seriously do this behind closed doors for privacy and dignity please. I totally agree. The first counselor a man of extraordinary height found me in the crowed hallway and in a very loud voice so he could be heard above the other conversations as he approached from several feet away he explained he was returning my second tithing check (after the first one had already cleared the bank) because they just learned they can’t accept tithing someone who is excommunicated! It turned quite a number of heads. I was startled and politely asked him to hold it until I was re-baptized but he bluntly refused.

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  52. Jack Hughes on July 11, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    “Retarded” used to be an acceptable term for such individuals, but in recent decades the word has been co-opted by youth culture as a general pejorative, nowadays taken as offensive. The preferred general term is “intellectually disabled”.

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  53. Howard on July 11, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    Okay well, not sure exactly WHO I offended with my anonymous, literally correct use of the once acceptable (now banned?) word retarded. The intellectually disabled community at large? Those close to those who are intellectually disabled? Or the politically correct police.

    In the interest of political correctness and blogging peace please substitute *intellectually disabled guy* for my use of mentally retarded guy.

    But I think we carry these things way, way too far. I’m not insensitive, nor would I call anyone retarded to their face but please, it’s anonymous otherwise correct use offends no one unless they personalized it. Is retarded now banned from ANY use by someone outside the minority to whom it addresses like the n word?

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  54. Frank Pellett on July 11, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    I think the problem was more with the tone, rather than the words.:

    “I was stuck in a lowly job with someone who was not even capable of doing it.” Kinda like, “I was forced to pick cotton out with the illegal immigrants” Your adding a “retarded person” to your story is used to show how far down you were thrust. The person you had to work with made the punishment that much worse.

    Also, if you wouldn’t call someone something to their face, you probably shouldn’t use it in any other conversaion.

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  55. Howard on July 11, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    Yes Frank very good! You are on the right track of what I was attempting to convey but more like I was called to “less important” callings (as MH labeled them) that were associated within those particular wards as being previously or currently held by intellectually disabled people. Caring members took the time to point out this association to me! Yes my deliberate use of “retarded” as a literary device was done to emphasize and amplify the meaning of the situation I was called (thrust) to and to convey the feeling I had as an innocent believing attempting to be faithful TBM (at that time) being treated that way, not in one but two wards in different stakes!

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  56. Howard on July 11, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    With regard to tone, Mormons like to emphasize anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy. But it would be good for them to remember the that article of faith begins with We believe in being honest, true… When uplifting is elevated above honest and true there’s a problem! Pollyanna denial is still denial, it is simply dysfunction with a smile!

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  57. Jeff Spector on July 11, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    Howard,

    It could be more useful for you to just apologize to the offended rather than getting all pompous on us and trying to justify a rather insensitive remark about another person, true or not.

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  58. Howard on July 11, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    Pompous? Sure Jeff, right after you explain who I offended and how that was done.

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  59. Howard on July 11, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    Jeff,
    People like to take offense because it allows us to claim the moral high ground and it’s often used to justify an almost socially acceptable catharsis or as a means to call others out, or to repentance or or silence them. I’m sure there are also true and legitimate reasons for being offended particularly when someone personally attacks you and especially if the attack makes claims that aren’t true. But the anonymous literary use of retarded strays very far from a personal attack so please clearly explain who I offended and how I did that.

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  60. Nick Literski on July 11, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    Howard, you make so many strong, insightful comments in this blog, that I can’t help but think you’re above this above exchange. In looking up “retarded” in the good old Webster dictionary, I find that it now includes an italic aside, reading “sometimes offensive.” While I entirely understand the idea of using provocative language to make a point, I’m not sure what point you serve with this particular word. Regardless of its technical definition, the word has become socially unacceptable in modern times. I see that someone suggested “intellectually disabled.” A more common phrase I’ve seen in polite usage is “mentally handicapped.”

    Seriously, Howard. You have SO many valuable things to say here. Please don’t “shred your cred” by beating this particularly unattractive horse.

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  61. Jeff Spector on July 11, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    Thanks, Nick. Very well stated.

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  62. Howard on July 11, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    “Sometimes offensive.” Nick, did Webster explain when it is and is not offensive? That is what I’m working through here. I used a word that may or may not have been offensive and if it was offensive to whom? Jeff made the claim, I think he should explain it but anyone is welcome to do so. I do not believe I offended anyone except the word police.

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  63. RickH on July 11, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    Howard, first let me say that I really appreciated your comments earlier. As for the “retarded” discussion, here’s my take.
    I can’t say exactly when the word started to become socially unacceptable, but it has. While Webster’s says “Sometimes offensive,” I think “retard” and “retarded” are seen by some as being on a par with any of the racially charged words that have fallen out of favor over the past 50 years.
    I do not consider myself part of the “word police” – people who hear “unacceptable” words and immediately attack the offender, full of righteous indignation. I live in an Army town and so am exposed to strong language constantly and even use it myself frequently. But I do try to modulate my own vocabulary so as not to not offend others, when I suspect my company will likely be offended.
    So, I was not offended by your usage, and I did not view your comments as being disparaging of the individuals you mentioned. But it *did* make me uncomfortable. I have several friends with mentally handicapped family members who have expressed that the word “retarded” is offensive to them because it has stopped being a clinical description and became an insult (as in “dude, you are sooooo retarded!”). Because the second usage has eclipsed the first, the word itself has become hurtful to them. In an effort to be more sensitive to them, I have tried to remove the word from my vocabulary. As a result of those efforts, other people’s use of the word really stands out to me, and sometimes it distracts from an otherwise excellent comment.
    The whys and whens and hows of words becoming taboo can get very complicated, and could rate their own post – or even a series. But the important thing is to accept the changes, rather than trying to stand athwart linguistic history, crying, “Stop!” That leads to threadjacks, at best. At worst, it means you don’t get taken seriously – not because your ideas lack merit, or your experiences have no value, but because your words become so distracting that people can’t see past them.

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  64. Howard on July 11, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    RickH,
    Thanks for you comment and views.

    The National Down Syndrome Society Preferred Language Guide an organization one would expect to be hypersensitive to this states; While it is still clinically acceptable to say “mental retardation,” you should use the more socially acceptable “intellectual disability” or “cognitive disability.”

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  65. hawkgrrrl on July 11, 2013 at 7:42 PM

    I found the comment a bit jarring as well. It was the norm to refer to someone as mentally retarded in the 1980s, so for me it was less the use of the term (which has definitely gone downhill) than it was the idea that you should not have to serve with someone who was mentally disabled because it was beneath you (their disability as evidence that you were more capable than this bishop would allow). I think the bishop was on track in giving a mentally challenged person a calling so that the person would also contribute and feel useful. It is very important to the mentally challenged (and to all of us) to be perceived as competent.

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  66. Howard on July 11, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    Yes, I think you’ve read most of it well hawkgrrrl but seem to have missed this part; more capable than 2 bishops in different stakes would allow which may imply something about how records were marked or about the first Bishop’s influence on the second. I really didn’t feel it was beneath me the first time in the first ward but after moving and experiencing deja vu I really began to wonder what was going on.

    This came on the heels of a very long story where everything that could go wrong on the church’s side of my return did, including forgetting about my re-baptism which embarrassed my out of state relatives and non-member guests because we arrived to a dark building with an empty fount, no program, no music. The stake happened to be putting on an In-N-Out burger feast that night so when they arrived to set up for it they discovered us Ooops! and started filling the font while they chased down my Bishop. Apologies were offered but the performance remained pretty low.

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  67. hawkgrrrl on July 11, 2013 at 11:20 PM

    Got it – thanks, Howard.

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  68. Rockies Gma on July 11, 2013 at 11:54 PM

    Well Howard, that happened to my friend at her baptism. Her non-believing husband and children were there, and a few relatives. Friends there too. They treasure the whole mishap as the “fun memories” of a special day. The family was baptized six months later and lamented that there were no glitches to make their event unique. No one blamed those who forgot, nor did they blame me fog not remembering to call and remind them.

    You are so defensive. Just try to learn from the good answers you’ve received here. Actually, you haven’t received them. You just keep trying to justify yourself, rather than caring about how your tone and attitude come across. You’re being obtuse. Don’t be obtuse.

    You know how I took two callings in two different wards, two different stakes serving with a gentle giant? I thought, “Wow….Howard gets how wonderful cognitively challenged people are. He’s gifted. He’s an angel on earth. He’s way beyond most of us in progression…..” Don’t blow my perceptions.

    And might I add that perhaps such perceptions were tagged on your record, if it was tagged at all? Jesus saw your goodness to one of His special souls. Maybe He was the one who guided you to another one such.

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  69. Rockies Gma on July 12, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    Now back to ecclesiastical abuse.

    I concede it has happened, but I disagree with some of the examples given here.

    Yes, we must address it and discuss prevention and resolution. I really like Hawkgrrl’s frames of reference, and her ideas to help. (I admit bias because I Love her posts!)

    I encourage posts on how we can be better members toward one another and all our leaders.

    In that spirit I leave this borrowed concept: Ask not what your bishop can do for you, but what you can do for your bishop.

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  70. Howard on July 12, 2013 at 6:26 AM

    Rockies Gma,
    I’ll sum it up by saying I wasn’t warmly welcomed back into the fold by leadership and blaming me for their actions and inactions might make you feel better about the church but it doesn’t fit the facts. Someone who has been excommunicated is an exception to the normal system, they’re not warmly welcomed in like an investigator and since we’re pretty rare they simply aren’t prepared to handle us. This causes a few procedural problems in the beginning and those issues began to snowball so it didn’t improve with time. As a result I began to represent an inconvenience to them. Things didn’t improve after the mishandled baptism and there was a long list of other screw ups. So I’ll certainly never have to “lament” that there were no glitches lucky me!

    You wrote:…if it was tagged at all? According to the 2nd Bishop my records were marked by the 1st Bishop and this conclusion was supported by what followed so sorry there’s no comforting “IF” for you here. My 1st Bishop blamed my 1st Stake President and he in turn blamed my 1st Bishop for the church’s foot dragging making it extremely difficult to cut through the circle of B.S. to get things moving. Lying for the Lord or just lying? Who knows but lies they were. As a TBM I patiently worked with this problem for 4 years, I was re-baptized but my blessing were never restored.

    There is a large disconnect between the church and the gospel and between the church and what it claims to be. TBMs like to rationalize the church’s short comings and blame the member for what goes wrong. This helps preserve their fragile belief system.

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  71. I'm in Howard's corner... on July 12, 2013 at 7:05 AM

    Unbelievable that the Lord forgives our sins and remembers them NO MORE, but the Church never forgets. The membership doesn’t seem to do a very loving job of forgiving either.
    I witnessed a case where a brother had been excommunicated (adultery) and years later, when he was seen in the temple by a man who had been in his ward at the time, the “righteous” brother had a fit. He said he needed to contact this man’s new bishop and inform him of the ex-ing and the gravity of the sin, because obviously this man should NEVER be allowed in a temple again.

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  72. hawkgrrrl on July 12, 2013 at 7:28 AM

    Howard: “TBMs like to rationalize the church’s short comings and blame the member for what goes wrong. This helps preserve their fragile belief system.” I am sure there are some TBMs with a fragile belief system, but in this specific scenario, I think we are simply talking about something that most members have no first-hand experience with: being blackballed by leadership. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are burying their head in the sand to protect their fragile beliefs. It could simply be that they haven’t experienced what you have, and it’s hard to imagine why someone would be treated unfairly, even oneself.

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  73. Howard on July 12, 2013 at 7:52 AM

    Yes, I agree that can be the case hawkgrrrl, I should have been more clear. I was making a general statement not an absolute one that addresses my personal experience and my observations from many years of participation in the bloggernacle and more significantly what I’ve studied about the psychology of belief which depends strongly on confirmation bias for support. Mormon belief is basically founded upon spiritual conformation and really little else. Oddly (and wrongly I believe) Mormon’s today generally believe the spirit is barely discernible so I tend to see the foundation of TBM belief as unnecessarily shaky.

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  74. Nick Literski on July 12, 2013 at 8:02 AM

    Howard, it makes me sad to read about what you went through, at a time when you were earnestly trying to return to full fellowship in what you believed to be the “one true religion.” I’m so sorry that you had to endure what sounds like a “perfect storm” of pettiness and incompetence.

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  75. Howard on July 12, 2013 at 8:08 AM

    Thanks Nick. In the end it helped me to see much clearer. I remain close to the Lord through the Spirit as a disciple and life is good!

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  76. KLC on July 12, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    “Yes, I think you’ve read most of it well hawkgrrrl but seem to have missed this part; more capable than 2 bishops in different stakes would allow which may imply something about how records were marked”

    Howard, it may imply something about marking records, but since it happened with 2 bishops in different stakes it may also imply that you are a royal pain in the ass.

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  77. Howard on July 12, 2013 at 8:29 AM

    KLC,
    Lol, well I’m sure you can use this thread and others as evidence that I can be a royal pain in the ass but that wasn’t the case I humbly and patiently cooperating with leaders and the process but they couldn’t or wouldn’t get out of their own way.

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  78. hawkgrrrl on July 12, 2013 at 8:33 AM

    I did once get blackballed by Delta Airlines, and I know that resulted in some very strange future interactions with their ticketing agents until I convinced someone that I wasn’t dangerous.

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  79. Howard on July 12, 2013 at 8:33 AM

    Btw, KLC does being a royal pain in the ass justify in your mind leadership lies and foot dragging?

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  80. Jeff Spector on July 12, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    Howard,

    I am also very sympathetic toward your situation and the others like it. It just should not happen. But, I am hoping that your experience, based on my own experience, is very exceptional, even as stories like it are widely promoted on the Internet. My own experiences have shown me that leadership is anxious to get members back in the fold either because of disciplinary situations or inactivity. So, your situation is particularity disturbing.

    “Mormon belief is basically founded upon spiritual conformation and really little else. Oddly (and wrongly I believe) Mormon’s today generally believe the spirit is barely discernible so I tend to see the foundation of TBM belief as unnecessarily shaky!”

    I would totally reject this statement as I do not believe it. While there may be some people like this, I found from the very beginning of my association with the Church is that members are more educated on our beliefs than most other faiths. That they can articulate those beliefs to others in a logical and cogent manner is something the Church is focused on with its missionary-minded culture. I saw that when teaching Gospel Doctrine and i saw that during my times as a missionary and mission leader.

    The fact that they also rely on the Spirit is, to me, a positive thing, not a negative one.

    The Gospel teaches us that the Holy Spirit is our witness of truth. So why not rely on that? A correct discernment is important, no doubt.

    But why is that a negative/

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  81. hawkgrrrl on July 12, 2013 at 9:03 AM

    I’ve been reading Givens’ By the Hand of Mormon, and he makes an interesting point about the Mormon conversion process. Our faith is based entirely on the premise of personal revelation, which is more, not less, than what many are promised in other Christian faiths. It’s saying that we are entitled to a personal response, not just believing in what leaders or scriptures have said.

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  82. Howard on July 12, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    Jeff wrote; My own experiences have shown me that leadership is anxious to get members back in the fold either because of disciplinary situations or inactivity. I think this is true, the brethren realize they have a significant retention problem and they are beginning to focus on solving it. Still returning excommunicated members pose a bigger challenge than inactives because there will be fewer of them and they must be handled as an exception. When I was going through it no one including the SP seemed to be able to give me a list of what I could and could not do at the various stages of my return and it’s awkward to find out you’ve broken one of these rules after the fact. There should be a page on LDS.org that clearly lays this out.

    I said Mormon belief is basically founded upon spiritual conformation etc. You disagreed. I think there are 3 bases’ for LDS belief perhaps you can add more. 1) Line upon line. But in the end isn’t this mostly slow motion spiritual conformation? You come to feel good about what you read. 2) Intellectual. Well when this isn’t slow motion spiritual conformation it has serious limits. For instance if BoM historicity were anything close intellectually compelling non-member scientists would support it but they don’t. 3) Spiritual conformation. So in the end most of it amounts to spiritual conformation of one form or another.

    The fact that they relay on the Spirit IS a positive thing. The fact that they buy into the folklore belief that the Spirit is barely discernible and easily flees isn’t positive at all. If that’s all you expect or anticipate that’s probably all you’ll get! it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. The church focuses strongly and frequently on obedience and following the prophet and while following the Spirit is mentioned it has far less emphasis and how to do it isn’t really taught. The shakiness I see in Mormon belief would be strengthen by perusing the Spirit with the diligence typically put into home or visiting teaching and the time normally put into the Sunday block.

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  83. KLC on July 12, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    Howard, your comment about being “more capable than two bishops in different stakes would allow” referred to your 2 comments about twice being given inconsequential callings that you saw as beneath your capabilities. Maybe there was a note on your records that said, “Give Howard trivial callings only” but maybe you were given trivial callings because of your personality and the way you present yourself. That has nothing to do with leaders lying and dragging their feet but it does have something to do with being a royal pain in the ass.

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  84. Howard on July 12, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    Well the note referred my future Bishops back to Bishop #1.

    Let’s see, so my leaders WERE lairs and foot daggers and I was a royal pain in the ass and that explains the whole mess? Because I apparently deserved their passive aggressive behavior because they were just getting even for me being an inconvenience to them?

    Thanks for clearing that up KLC.

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  85. Howard on July 12, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    Oh and btw, where does that leave my eternity in your view?

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  86. Mormon Heretic on July 12, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    I’m quite certain that the Pharisees and Sadducees thought Jesus was a royal pain in the ass, so I don’t know what that comment has to do with anything, other than reflecting back on the original writer who wrote that comment, which was pretty uncalled for, IMO.

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  87. Jeff Spector on July 12, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    MO,

    “I’m quite certain that the Pharisees and Sadducees thought Jesus was a royal pain in the ass.”

    I think we have no real idea what the Pharisees and the Sadducees thought because their POV is refected by those who did think they were royal pains. Their veiws are represented by those who NEEDED them to be that way….

    Perhaps the same applies here as well.

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  88. Mormon Heretic on July 13, 2013 at 7:40 AM

    Jeff, I’m not entirely clear on your point. John Dominic Crossan has said that he believes that the Pharisees in particular didn’t exist at the time of Jesus, and rose to prominence long after Jesus’ death. Therefore the Gospel writers invented these conversations of Jesus and the Pharisees and these conversations are non-historical.

    But you strike me as more of a person that is more of a Biblical literalist, so I’m surprised to hear if you’re making this argument. Are you saying these conversations never existed like Crossan says?

    We all know Jesus died. Whether we want to blame that on the Romans, or the Jews, Jesus was a pain in the ass to somebody. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have been crucified at a young age.

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  89. Jeff Spector on July 13, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    MH,

    “But you strike me as more of a person that is more of a Biblical literalist, so I’m surprised to hear if you’re making this argument.”

    Oh, man. you must not read my posts on the Old Testament two years ago! And I had a post on the Pharisees a while back as well.

    While not in agreement with Crossan on the Pharisees, I am definitely in the camp that those conversations, if they occurred, are misreported and/or misinterpreted by LDS Church members and Christians in general.

    You have to have a good historical background on the Jewish religious experience following the Babylonia captivity to understand that those conversations (if they are even partly true) were typical as the Jews moved from a Prophet-based religion to a “learned man” or Rabbinical-based experience. Thus, contenting after ones own spiritual leader was quite common. And the questioning of others, like a Jesus, would have been very normal.

    The other historical fact is that “Messiahs” were in vogue at that time and there were many who were supposed to be that man. Even some of the most esteemed Rabbis of that era, nominated men who ultimately failed their “Messiahship.”

    So, while most Christians are aghast that some would question Jesus is such a manner. To me, it is quite normal. And goes on today.

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