"Sweet son of spell check." -Rating Pending
Question #90879 posted on 02/21/2018 7:50 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What are your thoughts about President Uchtdorf no longer being in the first presidency? I know it's caused quite a stir among some circles in Mormonism (naturally among ex-members as well). I expect that most active members will say that the callings are made through revelation and I get that, but it does seem like the church is taking a step towards being more hard-line conservative since President Uchtdorf was considered by many to be more liberal in his messages, not to mention that he's the only non-American in the twelve. This seems especially true when you consider that a counselor being removed from the first presidency has only happened a couple times, one who was in poor health and the other who had spoken in favor of blacks receiving the priesthood before the official change was announced. I know, either the church is true or it isn't, but I was hoping it wouldn't push out those who have more inclusive views.

- Disappointed progressive

A:

Dear you,

I was sad when I first heard that Elder Uchtdorf would no longer be in the First Presidency. He gives my favorite talks and I am going to miss him giving 3 talks every conference. Although we won't get to hear from him as much in conference, his new assignments were just announced in the Deseret News. "His new assignments include chair of the Missionary Executive Council, chair of the Correlation Executive Council and the primary contact for the Europe and Europe East Areas." Isn't that awesome! Elder Uchtdorf is going to do a great job in those assignments so I guess I can deal with only hearing from him once at conference.

As for Elder Uchtdorf being replaced by President Oaks, I wouldn't worry about the church's views shifting. The way the church is organized is different from typical organizations. One huge example of this is that all decisions made by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have to be unanimous. Not only do regular members of the quorum have the same say as members of the First Presidency, but the First Presidency won't go along with something if the whole quorum isn't on board. I would agree that individual apostles come from a different background with different opinions, but they are united in their testimony of Christ. The church is working hard to serve all of the members and make people feel loved and accepted. We aren't perfect, but I think we are improving, and I wouldn't expect that to change.

Peace,

Tipperary

A:

Dear disappointed,

I apologize if I misread your question, but to me it appeared to bear more resemblance to a President appointing a Supreme Court Justice rather than a prophet of God calling a counselor. I do think it was received by revelation, but I also think that any of the apostles could serve equally as well in the First Presidency. I don't think the Church gets more liberal or more conservative to increase or stop a progressive movement. 

I really think you are reading way too much into this one.

-Sunday Night Banter

A:

Dear you,

This just doesn't seem that weird to me. They recently changed the relief society presidency in my ward. The new president kept one or two people from the old counselors/secretaries and otherwise called new ones. I think its probably nice for her and the ward that it worked out that way because it provides some continuity but also brings in different voices to our auxiliary's leadership. The presidency now is set up under her leadership rather than the leadership of the previous RS president. I think the changes allow similar advantages to the Church and President Nelson.

~Anne, Certainly

A:

Dear person,

I think some callings are made through revelation, and some are made by humans seeking God's approval. That doesn't particularly bother me as it seems consistent with the LDS teaching that making choices is an important part of mortality. President Nelson and President Oaks are good friends who have worked with each other for a long time, so I'm not surprised by Elder Oaks' call. I don't think they called Elder Oaks with the idea of pushing Elder Uchtdorf out. They kept President Eyring, after all, and he is pretty tender and soft.

That said, I love Elder Uchtdorf and will miss hearing more from him. 

-Sheebs

A:

Dear you,

President Nelson: "How could I choose only two?"

Me: "Well, Brigham Young had eight counselors...."

President Nelson: "I'm deeply grateful to the Lord for answering my fervent prayers."

Sounds to me like the Lord was involved in this choice. I believe that.

I love President Oaks and am thrilled to hear more from him. President Uchtdorf did a lot of good and said some really important things. The things he said won't just go away. And he'll be around for a long time yet, with plenty of talks left in him.

Having new people in the First Presidency means an increasingly diverse set of viewpoints being taught. Every new person adds something to the ever-expanding record of teachings. But really, all of them represent Jesus Christ. They have different perspectives, but the same goal, so it doesn't really matter who leads as long as they're willing to serve as the Lord would have them serve.

-Kirito

A:

Dear friend,

I totally understand where you're coming from, I immediately had the same thoughts, and I was worried about the removal of Uchtdorf from the First Presidency meant. But as I thought about what happened I was reminded of an experience that I had that was very analogous to this situation, and hopefully will be helpful for you.

When I was serving on my mission, I was called to be a branch president of a small branch. The branch had at one point in time had about 30 members, and was one of the major branches in that area of Poland. Later, there was a missionary branch president who was fairly strict and enforced a lot of rules. He did some things that seemed pretty heartless to me, and I was furious with him. Because of his actions and several other events that happened at the same time, almost every member of the branch left the church or went inactive. I inherited a branch that had effectively one active member, and several partly active members. I cursed that missionary's name for a while, and was kind of confused at why the Lord would ever let that happen to the branch. Why would he ever be allowed to be in a position of leadership and offend so many people?

I served as the complete opposite of the branch president. I barely spoke Polish at the time, and I'm pretty scared of confrontation. I used the only tool I really felt I had, and I loved those members and I loved that branch as much as I could. The branch began to grow again. But over the year and a half that I served there, I started to learn more and more about what had happened in my city. I started to understand why that missionary had done what he had. I understood his faults, and I understood the situation. The branch starting growing and experiencing miracles in a way that it never could have if that missionary branch president had not done what he did. I eventually saw the Lord's hand in what had happened. I started to see that certain things were absolutely crucial to the growth of the branch, and the damage caused was not only temporary, but needed.

The Lord needed him to serve as branch president, and he needed me to serve later. We both fulfilled a specific role that was desperately needed at the time. He corrected out of love, and I reached out in love to humbled branch members. It was easy for me to resent what he did to the branch, and it took a while for me to understand why. But once I did I respected and loved him more than I ever thought I could. 

The point of that story is not to imply anything about what Elder Oaks will do to the church, or that his role will somehow be to offend people and cause people to leave the church. The point is that every leader brings something different. In my experience, the switch of leadership could have been seen as a massive change in leadership style and the stance of the church. But it was certain people with different experiences that needed to do different things. I hope that experience is somewhat helpful, and helps to explain my thoughts on the change.

Keep it real,
Sherpa Dave

Question #90897 posted on 02/21/2018 11:13 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Am I considered a homebody if I like to go out and do things, maybe once or twice a week? I like to go out and eat. I like to go to movies. I like to try new things. I wouldn't go to parties if I didn't know anyone, and probably wouldn't even go if I only knew one person. I, myself, tend to think I'm more on the homebody side of things (especially since I'm a huge introvert), but when I compare myself to my girlfriend, I'm an adventurer! She would stay in all day, every day, if she could.

-kerouac jr

A:

Definition of homebody

According to the Oxford English Dictionary website the definition of homebody is "A person who likes to stay at home, especially one who is perceived as unadventurous." So basically if you like to stay at home, you're a homebody. It does speak about perception of being unadventurous, but that's totally objective. Also homebody in itself is a totally objective word and isn't necessarily a good or bad thing. It just means that you enjoy being at home and there's nothing wrong with that.

Peace,

Tipperary

A:

Kerouac Jr., 

You get to describe yourself however you want. Do you feel like you're a homebody? Great. You can be that. Do you feel like you're an adventurer? Great. You can be that. 

I once told a ward-mate that I loved to read but that I rarely did. They asked "How can you say you love reading if you don't do it? If you really loved it you would make the time for it." They were only mostly right. I could make more time for it. And actually, after that conversation I made a concerted effort to read more. But even before that I knew I loved reading because when I do it I am very very happy.

Defining the things you love is not dependent entirely on the amount of time you spend on them. Time spent is an indicator, but not the only one. You can go out often and still really really love being at home. I'm right there with ya. I go out a lot, I enjoy my friends, and I am blessed to have places to go. But when I get to be home by myself with nothing to do I am very very happy to be there. 

People are complicated and dynamic. Be what you want yo. 

Babalugats

Question #90849 posted on 02/21/2018 11:06 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

How should one respond when confronted with open racism? There I was, being a dutiful visiting teacher - bemoaning the wicked state of the world - and I mentioned that you don't have to look very far to see that the world is lacking in personal revelation. Soon the conversation turned to current events and Charlottesville. My companion (an active Daughter of the Utah Pioneers) said she didn't understand why there could be black pride, but there couldn't be white pride, and expressed concern about erasing history. I was too busy picking my jaw up off the floor to give a proper Christlike response, but I think I mumbled something about how we would be better to celebrate the achievements of our Pioneer ancestors and Dutch or Irish heritage rather than our race. I don't want to break up our companionship, and otherwise, she's as righteous and saintly as they come, but I feel obligated to show her that flying the Confederate flag (her son served a mission in the South) and supporting groups that preach white supremacy is not history, but hate. What should I have said? How can I better model tolerance, when we only see each other for a few minutes a month?

-Little Dutch Girl

A:

Dear You,

The problem I see with "white pride" is that it's so closely associated with white supremacy. Often people who champion "white pride" tend to be white supremacists, which is clearly problematic. And while there was a black supremacy movement led by Malcolm X in the 60s, black pride isn't defined by that, and encompasses so, so much more than black supremacy. I think another difference is that black pride arose out of genuinely problematic social situations that disadvantaged people of color, so it's a response to an actual distasteful situation. White pride, on the other hand, seems to have come about because of people who are uncomfortable with programs that try to benefit people other than whites. At least to me, it almost seems like a way of deflecting the conversation to be about white people again, rather than allowing ourselves to listen and understand why black pride is a thing, and why people of color may be at a disadvantage in this country. I think in general, when people say something about their culture and lived experiences, we would all do better to listen to what they're saying and try to understand where they're coming from, rather than jumping in and saying, "Well what about MY culture?" 

I like what you said about focusing more on our specific heritage, as well. There's nothing wrong with being proud of being Dutch, or Irish, or Swedish or Norwegian or German or French. It's great to know where you come from, and if that heritage gives you a sense of identity and pride, great. But being proud of being Scandinavian is different from being proud of being white. For one thing, the concept of "whiteness" has changed a lot throughout the course of history, and groups that today we would consider to be white haven't always been classified that way by their contemporaries (like the Irish, for example, as well as Mormons, interestingly enough). Historically, "whiteness" has been a label applied to a certain desirable group, that "undesirable" groups have been excluded from; by classifying ourselves primarily by our whiteness rather than our specific heritage, we're associating ourselves with that same hegemonic worldview, intentionally or not. For another thing, "whiteness" has no specific heritage, because it's been such a subjective term over the years. "Blackness," however, has its own heritage for African-Americans, whose ancestors were stripped of their national identities. As white people in the US, we have the privilege of being able to identify our heritage as whatever European country our ancestors came from, or even simply as "American" if we want. But because of the fractured nature of slavery, a lot of African-Americans can't say what specific country their ancestors were from, and while they're certainly American, they were kept so separate for so many years from "mainstream" American culture that blackness became a unifying feature. There's nothing wrong with celebrating your heritage, no matter what color you are. And that's what black pride does. White pride, though, isn't so much about celebrating heritage as it is about celebrating the fact that we're white, so that's why it's better that we focus on our actual heritage if we want something to celebrate about ourselves.

As far as people who try to "protect history" by keeping Confederate imagery alive, my question is, what version of the past are they protecting? Yes, it is a fact that lots of Confederate soldiers were probably brave men doing the best they could in their circumstances. However, it is also a fact that the Confederacy as a whole fought tooth and nail to keep slavery alive, and engaged in disgustingly racist and oppressive practices. If people feel it's so important to protect history, my invitation to them would be to protect individual stories, not symbols of the Confederacy at large. Individual people are complex and nuanced, but the Confederacy as an institution stood for racism and oppression, and by supporting "the Confederacy," that's what you're supporting. History is the study of the past, so if people really care so much about it, maybe they should try to study what actually happened rather than just holding onto their existing worldview.

And as long as we're talking about protecting individual stories, listen to the individual stories of black people. Realize that they have a whole different version of the past than white people do, and neither of those versions is necessarily "correct." If two people attend the exact same church meeting, they'll probably come away with different takeaways and describe it differently, and it's not that one of them is right and one of them is wrong, just that they experienced the same events differently. So yes, if what your visiting teaching companion has heard about the Confederacy is from the viewpoint of people who tried to live just and honorable lives within its structure, she'll have a more favorable view of it than people who hear about it from the viewpoint of the many, many people who were oppressed under it. So if she cares about history so much, invite her to learn more about the people who have a whole different version of the past than what she's heard before, and listen to what they're saying and why they feel the way they do about the Confederacy. I feel like once you truly understand that, it becomes much more difficult to promote the Confederacy at large, even if you still have a personal connection to your own Confederate ancestors or something. 

Sorry, this sort of turned into my own rant against "white pride" and the whole "protecting our nation's history" argument rather than necessarily giving you suggestions for how to model tolerance to your visiting teaching companion. But honestly, if I were you I would just try to combat the single narrative we're often told about minorities. Use examples in your lessons of minorities doing amazing things, in stories that show them as real people rather than stereotypes. Talk about things you like about other cultures and religions and races. Share scriptures that talk about how God loves everyone regardless of race or religion or whatever else, and then talk about how you think those scriptures should be applied in a multicultural country like the US. Recommend books and movies that show minorities in a positive light, or that talk about complex social issues. Maybe this is naive of me, but I'd like to believe that a lot of people who are racist do it unintentionally, and while that doesn't excuse their racism, it does give me hope that if they realize they're being racist, they can change. Your visiting teaching companion has probably never had to face a lot of these issues head-on because they don't affect her, but if you help her understand minorities' experiences better, hopefully she'll realize that she could do more to be more tolerant.

Good luck, friend. Good on you for trying to be a force for good in the world.

-Alta

A:

Dutch,

Your companion's question is relevant and complicated to answer. I know it seems straightforward. As you mentioned, the church made an official statement following the violence in Charlottesville last year:

"White supremacist attitudes are morally wrong and sinful, and we condemn them. Church members who promote or pursue a “white culture” or white supremacy agenda are not in harmony with the teachings of the Church."

Pretty clear terms. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we don't do white supremacy. It sounds like your response was pretty Christlike to me. You disagreed with the sentiments being expressed and suggested an alternative way for you both to look at the situation. You clearly have positive feelings towards this person and want to understand them. You're striving to live your convictions and still allow others to grow. That is Christlike if you ask me. 

However, it's important that you not dismiss her thought process. She may not have the politically correct terms to discuss the question in a tactful way, but there really is something confusing to be discussed here. It hasn't been solved, even with the church's statement (which I really hope you believe I align with completely).

My mom was raised in the south. She was pretty outcast there because she was distinctively not racist and it was why she eventually left. I was raised with a multicultural step-family who patiently taught me their culture and allowed me to be a part of it. Being in that position makes this issue very difficult for me. Racial issues have directly impacted my family on both sides and it's hard to know what to think. I have no white supremacist values. But I do have a love and appreciation for my people, culture, and history. I often don't know how to reconcile that with the fact that I come from slave owners and confederates. I'm sealed to these people for goodness sake. How am I to interpret acts of bravery from my confederate soldier ancestors? 

I'm not trying to answer your companion's questions or make any definitive statement on race. I'm mostly just trying to show that it is more complicated than being racist or not being racist. Studying the nuances of the issue might help in your efforts to teach tolerance. If you understand your companion you will be more equipped to guide her and help her become more aware.

Babalugats

posted on 02/21/2018 7:36 p.m.
As for the Confederate flag bit, I would recommend reading "Gone with the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell. Most people think that the Civil War magically ended slavery, and that was that. But during the second half of the 1800s, the south was devastated culturally and economically beyond the ending of slavery due in large part to the militaristic federal government. The confederate flag is tricky because on one hand it's used by extremists, but one the other hand it's used by rural people trying to maintain their liberty from an oppressive government. Their son who spent two years talking with strangers who grew up in the south hasn't told mom to take it down yet.

The only chance you have is to understand enough to have an empathetic conversation, and when you are on that level, she can trust your suggestions. Start with "Gone with the Wind."

-Freebird