07 April 2013

Yeah, yeah, more Packerpucky

We all get it, Facebookers. He's stepped in it again, must be decried, etc etc etc. Regarding a new talk by a consistently controversial LDS leader: I do worry some people in my life will selectively take certain counsel with staunch, militant compliance and focus on certain principles in what I believe is distorted priority while diminishing the wider variety of teachings and reminders from equally endowed and truth-tapped teachers.  Maybe that's what he's worried about, too.  So be it. My refusal to "let it go" when he speaks out might be a touch of hypocrisy if I were to demand that he "let it go" when it comes to his favorite hobby topics, I admit.  Besides, it's probably a good thing if he's dropping speculative legal and sociological arguments in favor of more faith-based or religious counsel on spiritual harm.  And he does say tolerance is a virtue, even if he goes on to say it can be exaggerated into a vice, as he asserts all virtues can (an inclusion I fear may be lost on those who seek first to justify their judgment).  I don't know what Boyd K. Packer is like in person, as a father, as a grandfather, a neighbor, a son, a friend, or a brother.  He may be a bitter, cantankerous old man full of thinly veiled spite, or he may be a kindly old man trying to correct tendencies he sees the best he knows how and sincerely hoping to help humanity with his message.  I do not know.

What I do know is that this particular message carries little weight with me.  I don't mean I dismiss everything he says or think it's all poo. I just mean I place no special authority or weight on his perspective and often find his manner of expression as well as the messages he presents quite obviously erroneous in significant aspects.  I don't mean he's not a wise man in many ways, but I what he says just doesn't directly or internally impact me much, no matter how many people in my life believe he speaks for God when he is behind one particular pulpit.  I'm also so brash and disrespectful as to quite frankly state that the Pope's counsel means no more to me than Glenn Beck's.  OK, maybe a little more.  And I know how lost I must seem for not replacing the Pope with another equally authoritative, God-speaking individual, but it's not rebellion as far as I experience it: it's just how I see it.

I'm used to hearing similar stories from all sides, including Packer's own arch nemeses.  The slippery slope.  The same chatter that "tolerating" (which seems to mean either not constantly, directly, aggressively battling or completely embracing and adopting, depending on whom you ask) false views, beliefs, or behaviors may ensnare me into complicity, that my hands will have blood on them when the tyrants I "tolerated" oppress, destroy, and reign with blood and horror.  The claim that I, though well-intended and meaning to build harmony, enabled and ignored a growing threat from enemies who would reduce my humanity and rob me of my pursuit of happiness.  The sometimes completely accurate and useful but more often exaggerated and sensationalized suggestion that if we fail to alienate or criticize "them" enough, pretend to "be OK with" their choices and beliefs by not taking every opportunity to decry them, or focus excessively on common ground, that "their" divergent views will fester and take hold on society until utter destruction is inevitable.  The tired claim that my moral compass or ability to discern truth is so flawed or weak that defending even an errant group against spurious criticism and false prejudice might lull me into embracing their very falsehood.  I don't believe I'm a moral child pursuing the latest strange car offering sweet things.  I don't believe I'm a moral zombie chasing the loudest noise in futile pursuit of satiation.  I don't buy the extremism of the way such messages are often used, and I pity those who do when it seems to reflect fear of self and subversion of honest seeking of truth in favor of a contrived humility.

In other news, my friends and family who are actively LDS may not be actively decrying Packer's talk (or the likely use of it by some) but generally seem much more interested in Uchtdorf's remarks, so that's hopeful.  And no, President Packer people, no matter what you think you know, it's not hopeful in a "yay, I'm going to get away with sin because they're complacent!" way but in a "hopefully, we can continue building understanding and coexist in peaceful disagreement" way.  I still, to this day, believe relationships with people who won't work to survive rifts in belief and lifestyle necessarily take a back seat to truth, not the other way around.  That's one of many things from nearly thirty years of being active LDS that I still believe.


Crisco said...

I didn't watch much of conference. It no longer motivates me, but I did read about this particular remark that one apostle said tolerance can become a vice. I don't know the context within which he said it. I remember Monson mentioning tolerance in one of his talks too. What bugged me the most is that Jesus said that one of the greatest commandments was to love your neighbor, not tolerate him or her. Love. As the example he used with the good Samaritan, your neighbor can be anyone, not just someone with your same beliefs. Tolerance is better than judgment, bias, prejudice or hatred, but it should be the tool that leads you to love.

blj1224 said...


I believe "tolerance" in this context refers to differing beliefs, philosophies, etc., not to the individuals who hold them. For instance, if you want to include an active LDS individual in your life, you can love and accept that person as an integral and meaningful part of your life, but you'll have to tolerate his or her religious beliefs that may not be compatible with yours.

Uchdorf, Oaks, Christofferson and other church leaders have encouraged members not to define either themselves or others based on our perceptions of our differences, especially with consideration of our respective "sins"; but rather, we should define ourselves and others by our basic human nature -- are we caring, sensitive to the needs of others, charitable, loving, etc. We are encouraged to love others, include them in our lives, and agree to disagree about beliefs, philosophies, etc. without letting those differences damage our relationships.

Unfortunately, warnings of "too much tolerance" feeds the fears of those who believe the philosophies of othes will influence them to abandon their own beliefs, so they shun those who are "different". However, you'll find many LDS members, including Glen Beck :-), who are more libertarian and believe, for instance, that legalizing gay marriage will not destroy the sanctity of conventional marriage; that government-sanctioned marriage shouldn't be mandated by religious doctrine; and that religious doctrine shouldn't be mandated by government-sanctioned marriage.

The only way to end the divisiveness is to put aside fear and resentment, and love and embrace those who enrich our lives in spite of our differences.