Whorled View

November 29, 2006

DISHONEST RESPECT vs HONEST DISRESPECT

Filed under: Communications,Mormonism,Religion,Sociology — lullabyman @ 6:53 pm

I was born into a mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints) family. Just so you know where I’m coming from I should probably let you know that I also believe in the doctrine. Much of it I believe is literal (like Christ being the Son of God), much of it I believe is symbolic (like the world being created in 7 days), and I believe in all of it in one way or another. Some would call me “dyed in the wool”.

Mind you, I don’t think I’m any better than anyone else by virtue of my religion. Neither do I think all non-mormons go to hell nor do I think all mormons go to heaven. On the contrary, the LDS (short for “member of the Church of Jesus Christ of (L)atter (D)ay (S)aints”) doctrine teaches that most all people will go to a heaven-like place that is very similar to the heaven that most other Christian churches believe in – but that’s another often misunderstood topic which I didn’t intend on blogging about today.

One can’t be neutral with respect to “respect”. A person is either respectful or disrespectful. There is no middle ground. Actions alone will prove how respectful a person really is.

Today’s blog is a pre-emptive response to all the negative attention the LDS church will be getting as it becomes more and more evident that Capitol Hill needs people with the morals and integrity that mormons like Mitt Romney and Orrin Hatch have.

You might hear innuendos and lies like “Mitt Romney belongs to a cult”, or “Mitt Romney believes in baptizing dead people”, or “Mitt Romney considers his mormon underwear is sacred”, or lies involving partial truths that will make you think “Gee, that doesn’t sound like that mormon I knew”. That’s politics, and I’m just fine with political jabs. The church and it’s people whom I have grown to love has suffered far worse attacks.

What I am not fine with is when these attackers dishonestly claim to be friendly, supporting, or respectful of others when they know that they can be less offesive in their approach. I can discuss almost any topic with anyone in a disarmingly respectful manner without loosing the power of my arguments. If I have to rely on an offensive approach to win an argument then that speaks poorly of my abilities. If I chose to take the offensive approach and then I claim I’m respectful of the person I’m knowingly offending – then I’m just a liar.

Let me give an example … I recently read a blog by Andrew Sullivan, a Time Magazine writer, who is displaying a photograph that most mormons I know would find obscene and the displaying of it as quite offensive, and then he claims to continues to continue doing it without “disrespect”, even after 100’s, possibly 1000’s of LDS people told him how offended they were. That’s without “disrespect”?

One can’t be neutral with respect to “respect.” People are either respectful or disrespectful. There is no middle ground. Actions alone will prove how respectful a person really is. Jesus Christ put it this way: “By thier fruits shall ye know them”. Someone else said “Actions speak louder than words.”

Don’t confuse dishonest respect with honest ignorance. If someone is honestly ignorant that they were offensive then they are offered forgiveness, but forgiveness doesn’t endow them with a wholesale license to perpetuate the offensiveness withouot being considered rude and disrespectful. It is at that point when they add the label “disrespectful toward certain persons” along with “offender of certain persons”.

… which reveals this Time Magazine writer as grossly dishonest, as are all others who knowingly and needlessly offend those to whom they claim they’re respecting. One cannot claim being respectful of a group of people while intentionally doing something that they know is offensive and obscene to them.

I’ve personally known a lot of Anti-Mormons, and there are many kinds: ex-mormons, fundamental christians, someone who had a bad experience with a mormon, the wanabe-mainstream types, the bash-mormons-for-fun hobbyists, and even the I’m-spending-all-my-$-to-publish-evil-tidings variety. Among them there are a few that I respect … and even some that I like, and might gladly spend time with sharing an enlightening discussion with some of them.

Those are the anti-mormons who are honest, but it seems to me that they’re the exception to the rule. It seems there are few anti-mormons that will either admit that thier approach is disrespectful, or few that will show respect by being considerate of the sensitivities that mormons have for things we hold so sacred that we don’t even discuss them outside our temples.

Although the Muslim-Extremist’s response was shameful, the shameful cartoons were extremely disrespectful of all Muslims – a fact that is completely disregarded by most non-Muslims who thought Muslims were being overly sensitive. Respect, however, means respecting another’s sensitivities with no expectation of receiving a rationale for those sensitivites. It means admitting that sensitivities are justifiably unique to the individuals who must have them for good reason.

Although I’ve used anti-mormons as an obvious example because I see this “dishonest respect” hypocrisy so regularly with so many of them, it’s also become so commonplace everywhere that the phrase “not to be disrespectful” has lost it’s meaning. Remember the horrible backlash when those scandinavian cartoonists portrayed Allah with bombs in his hat? It seemed everyone came to the rescue of the cartoonists without considering how disrespectful it was. Although the extremist muslim response was shameful, the cartoons were extremely disrespectful and shameful as well.

I’m not saying let’s not discuss potentially offensive topics. I’m saying lets be respectful in our approach. Society can use some more honest respect. When that isn’t possible, let’s at least see some honest disrespect (where the disrespectful person at least admits their disrespectfulness instead of hiding behind fake”fact-finding” missions), but dishonest respect (where the disrespectful person dishonestly claims to be respectful) is unworthy of anyone’s respect.

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17 Comments »

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for this post. I’m a largely secular, mostly liberal Californian, but I grew up with a number of mormon (I notice you don’t capitalize, so I won’t) friends. Their beliefs differed from the Lutheran faith in which I was raised, but they were all decent, friendly, kind, smart, generous people. Because I was a bit reserved — no hard partying, etc. — I got along well with the mormons.

    Anyway, that’s a digression from my real question/comment: I notice you list mormons Mitt Romney and Orrin Hatch among the politicians with morals and integrity. How about Harry Reid?

    Comment by FTSandy — December 1, 2006 @ 12:30 am

  2. Hi FT Sandy –
    Yeah, I usually don’t capitalize “mormon”, because it’s slang. It isn’t bad slang – which is why I use it, but I’ve never thought slang should be capitalized as that seems to give the word too much credance. It is interesting however that the LDS church capitalizes it. I prefer to use “LDS” to “mormon”, but sometimes “LDS” just doesn’t fit.

    Living much of my life far from Utah, I’ve known a lot of Lutherans and feel the same way about the them as you’ve felt about mormons: decent, freindly, kind, smart, and generous.

    I did miss Harry Reid. Honestly I don’t think there’s a chance any LDS politician will win a presidential primary anytime soon – but I do think some mormons will at least be discussed, especially in the Republican party where they want to show the public a squeaky clean face. Mitt Romney will be the mormon that is discussed the most as a potential consideration for the primaries. Then Orrin Hatch (if at all). But I don’t think Harry Reid will even be an afterthough among his party for a primary presidential nomination. He’s a great guy, and as far as politicians go he seems to me to have both integrity and morals (though there are gaming opponents who disagree with me). Relatively speaking, in today’s climate of corruption he looks pretty clean.

    It’s surprising how moderate the LDS politicians are compared to other politicians who are known for their religion. Orrin is far more popular and respected among both his Democratic and Republican constituents than he is among the general public. He has his hands in everything and is a mighty force on Capitol Hill. But in the last Republican primaries he received practically no votes. Mitt however will be more popular in the upcoming primaries, and I think that’s simply due to the fact that he isn’t a “Utah mormon”.

    Regardless, I expect that we’re going to see a bit of a replay of the Vanessa Williams Miss America scandal of 1983. Sharlene Wells, a Mormon girl from SLC, was a shoe-in after that as the Miss America Committee was trying to salvage their image. Like I said, I think Mitt will at least be discussed as a nominee for similar reasons. The Democratic party doesn’t have such an image problem right now, and if it did I don’t think they’d ever consider Harry Reid despite how good of a guy and a candidate he might be.

    Comment by lullabyman — December 1, 2006 @ 1:54 am

  3. You claim that respect “means respecting another’s sensitivities with no expectation of a rationale or justification for those sensitivites.” This seems a bit problematic to me. As a definition of respect, it strikes me as arbitrary. Why, after all, should we respect sensitivities (or beliefs, or commitments, etc) with not expectation of a rationale? It seems to me that the whole point of respect for the views of another human being is that we expect those views to BE justified. If we are to respect those views, we respect them provisionally, on the assumption that the justification of those views–of which we are at the moment ignorant–actually exists, and that the person to whose sensitivities we offer this respect can, in fact, provide that justification to us. Unless we expect justification, we commit ourselves to respecting anything and everything, no matter how absurd. And there are two problems with this. First, no person can honestly commit herself to respecting EVERYTHING and still remain a rational human being: some things are just too wrong or too absurd to respect. Second, if we DO agree to respect anything at all without expecting that there is a justification for it, then the word respect becomes meaningless. If everything is worthy of respect, then respect isn’t very valuable. And this, I suspect, is why we generally assume that views or sensitivities worthy of respect must be justified.

    But, in fact, you seem to agree with me, since your very next sentence says that respect “means admitting that sensitivities are justifiably unique to the individuals who must have them for good reason.”

    Now look, you just can’t have it both ways. Either (1) We respect people’s sensitivities without expecting them to have any justification for those sensitivities, OR (2) by respecting people’s sensitivities we admit that they have them for good reason (i.e., with some justification). You can’t ADMIT that a person has a reason for something without expecting them to have a reason for it. If I say “I admit that you have a brain, but I don’t expect you to have a brain,” I am saying something nonsensical.

    But if respect for someone’s sensitivities DOES involve the view that those sensitivities are justified, or that there are good reasons for them, then we also can (and should) STOP respecting someone’s sensitivities if and when we realize that those sensititivites are unjustified.

    Comment by DS — December 1, 2006 @ 2:24 am

  4. >Why, after all, should we respect sensitivities (or beliefs, or commitments,
    >etc) with not expectation of a rationale? It seems to me that the whole point
    >of respect for the views of another human being is that we expect those views
    >to BE justified.

    I agree that one cannot respect views that are not rational or justified.

    I think you may be confusing rational with rationale, and have misunderstood me as a result. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines rationale as “a statement given to explain a belief or act”. Rational is defined as “according to the rules of logic” or “based on sound reasoning”.

    So what I’m saying is that you shouldn’t have to expect a someone to give you a statement that proves (rationale) the justification for thier sensitivities before you respect those sensitivities. If someone tells you that you’ve offended them, then respecting them means you modify your behavior, then seek to understand, having faith that their sensitivities are justified.

    I’m hoping to promote a kind of an innocent-until-proven-guilty approach to human interactions. That’s respectful. If you know your are offensive to someone, but refuse to remove the offense out of pure belligerence because you assume thier sensitivity is unjustified – that’s called disrespect.

    That said, I’m not against disrespect as there are cases when it is fully justified, neither am I against discussion potentially offensive topics in a respectful manner. I am however bewildered by those who claim to be respectful while they knowingly maintain an offensive approach to a matter that can be discussed and dealt with more civilly and respectfully. They are patently dishonest in that practice until they either admit they are being disrespectful or until they stop their offensive approach.

    Comment by lullabyman — December 1, 2006 @ 3:01 am

  5. If the founding truely wanted a separation of church and state, why can’t we have that when decifering a president? Anyone in the political areana, no matter how powerful they may be cannot win a genuine respect through negative criticism. Wouldn’t one want to win an election and/or the respect of it’s audience through merit, not mudslinging? To me, this is a no-brainer. If Andrew Sullivan is trying to gain respect by degrading and skewing a religious belief and/or practice, then good luck to you Mr. Sullivan. Your efforts have only created the opposite affect for me.

    Comment by loula — December 1, 2006 @ 12:13 am

  6. Respecting someone’s religion means respecting their right to believe it. It doesn’t mean following the tenets yourself. I don’t have to follow the rules of someone’s religion in order to respect it. If Mormons think it is offensive to display pictures of their ritual undergarments, that stance is a tenet of their faith that I don’t need to follow. Period. In fact I find it very disrespectful of my atheism that Mormons are trying to tell me that I should have to follow their beliefs in what I investigate and examine.

    I feel the same way about Islam and the prohibition against portraying the prophet in cartoon or image form. That’s just a rule that I don’t need to follow. It’s your religion. Follow it yourself — and while you may be justifiably offended if somebody openly insults your faith, you have no right to take umbrage simply because somebody is not treating the objects of your worship with great unusual reverence.

    There is nothing on this planet that exists that I think it is offensive to examine in pictorial form. That includes the objects of your faith. Deal with it.

    Comment by DB — December 4, 2006 @ 9:37 pm

  7. I don’t know how I could have said it any more clear than I already did, and yet you missed the whole point: Honest Disrespect in and of itself can be a respectable and worthwhile attribute. I welcome those who disrespect my faith to express their views, and they are even allowed to do it in a disrespectful manner. In truth I believe that reveals far more about them than it does men. My whole point is that it’s patently dishonest to pretend you are being respectful, when being disrespectful.

    Your comment seemed to have completely miss that point – which was the sole intent of the blog. I have no problem with you or of your viewpoint, and although I think your behavior tells far more about you than it does me I also don’t think you are dishonest if you openly admit that when you knowingly do something offensive toward someone you are contentious and hurtful – and it your case it seems obvious that you take pleasure in being that way. Just don’t pretend that you’re a swell guy while engaging in that kind of behavior because you aren’t and honest people know it and will admit it.

    Comment by LullabyMan — December 5, 2006 @ 9:30 pm

  8. LullabyMan – I just don’t understand your logic. And,I don’t think that you understand what some of the other folks are saying. Maybe some differences can’t be bridged. Bill

    Comment by Bill — December 8, 2006 @ 7:27 am

  9. To argue with anyone would be futile. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we hold the covenants we make with our Father in Heaven Sacred. We know we are Christians, we believe in the Lord our God, and in his son, Jesus Christ. That Christ was sent to this earth to show us the way to live. To provide us with eternal life and a way to repent of our sins. As a result, to provide these things, he suffered in the Garden and was crucifixed upon the cross. He did for all what we could not do for ourself. The best thing for all to do is to ignore comments of people who have no knowledge of the beliefs we hold so dear. Some people do not have a grasp of the true meaning of respect. We have always been persecuted for our beliefs, and the saints living in these latter-days are no better than the early saints. We must be strong, love those who persecute us, and make fun of us, and live our religion. We have been promised blessings that are sure.

    Comment by bear — December 8, 2006 @ 9:57 pm

  10. Bill –

    I think your confusion stems from the idea that I’m trying to bridge a difference. I’m not. I’m merely suggesting that it’s dishonest when someone claims to be respectful while they are knowingly offending others when a less offensive approach can be taken.

    For example: Drawing Allah with a bomb in his hat is disrespectful when I could just as easily say “Islam seems to promote terrorism”. But don’t confuse my message – my intent isn’t to condemn the disrespect. Rather I’m saying that the artist who says they respect Muslims while drawing it is dishonest, because they are making a false claim about themselves.

    This blog entry was about honesty … that honesty is a more valuable trait than respectfulness. Be disrespectful if you feel the need, but please don’t dishonestly claim that you are respectful of others while being disrespectful.

    Comment by lullabyman — December 9, 2006 @ 10:27 am

  11. I find it strange that mormons find it “disrespectful” if you question their religon. I asked a missionary, “I have serious questions for a religon that claims to hold the keys to man becoming a god.” Why can I not question…I am surely not mocking.

    Missionaries have stopped by my house many times and I at once thought about being baptised. But the more I learned about the mormon faith, the more it scared me. When I asked the kind missionaries questions I had, such as the mormon underwear thing, that why the Book of Abraham was proved by BYU scientist to be fraudulent, and so on..they told me that I should not be reading that material, as it was disrespectful.

    So I decided not to become a mormon because I was not allowed to question their faith. I believe they are not allowed to question their faith either or to read any materials. I am now a non-denominational Christian. I can read any material I want, including things which question my faith such as the Davinci Code, theories of evolution, and it doesn’t waver my faith at all. I’m not anti-mormon, I’m just very weary of their beliefs…It seems as though their religon is guilt driven.

    Comment by steve — January 2, 2007 @ 4:38 am

  12. Just to let everyone know here what I have found about the mormon religon, here is what they believe in a nutshell.

    That God, or the Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother resides on a planet in space near planet Kolab. A long time ago, a gigantic war took place between two of Heavenly Father’s sons…Jesus and Satan. We all took place in this war, we just don’t know it. Those who fought on the side of Jesus, were born into mormon familes. Those who fought on the side of Satan, became demons. Those who did not choose sides, were cursed with the mark of Cain, of having black skin.

    Jesus, to mormons, fulfilled the law of eternal progression, which mormons consider salvation. This law of eternal progression means that man can become god, just like Jesus. In order to become a god, a human must receieve the holy ghost, laying of hands, be baptized, and obtain a temple recommend. Obtaining a temple recommend requires you to be a full tithe payer, not to masturbate ever, and to wear your temple underwear…all the time. You must also be married to become a god in the temple…no singles allowed.

    So as you see, although mormons may say they believe the same things as regular Christians do. They don’t. They may use similar characters, similar words, but their different. When they say Jesus, they believe he is one of millions of Gods, brother of Jesus, who died for Adam’s sin, not yours. When they say salvation, they mean the law of eternal progression.

    I believe it is quite clear in the Bible that God says there is only ONE god and that he doesn’t really appreciate man believing he can become God. Read Ezekeil 28 or even the 1st Commandment or even Revelations 1:11. This is why I couldn’t become a mormon..because the Book of Mormon preached something different than the bible. I hope this helps those on this comment board learn a little more about our mormon friends.

    Comment by steve — January 2, 2007 @ 4:53 am

  13. I find it interesting that most of the responses I’ve received to this post seem so eager to disregard the part where I say that there exists many honest anti-Mormons who question LDS beliefs in a respectful manner, and they are able to do it and still cover all the topics. For example, I wouldn’t consider “steve’ as being disrespectful. Furthermore I said I respect such anti-Mormons , that I like them, and would gladly spend time with sharing an enlightening discussion with some of them. I even expressed my belief that there is nothing wrong with being disrespectful if you are justified. If you didn’t get any of that from my post then perhaps you ought to reread the post. The post was about people who hide behind a cloak of respectability while being disrespectful, and how patently dishonest that is.

    But make no mistake: there is nothing disrespectful with delving into the lesser known or dubious doctrines attributed to Mormons. That isn’t disrespectful at all. There are plenty of LDS people who have websites that, like me, are happy to discuss all these topics, like http://www.jefflindsay.com/ http://www.fairlds.org/ http://www.shields-research.org/ http://www.mormonfortress.com/ http://www.mormonmentality.org http://www.lightplanet.com/response/index.html etc (the list goes on). There are also many sites set up by LDS where there are forums set up for discussing anything related to Mormonism.

    “The Glory of God is Intelligence” is a unique LDS doctrine. There is no truth that should ever be feared. It is true however that not all knowledge has saving power (saving us from death and sin, which is the purpose and intent of the Gospel message) so LDS missionaries are more likely to focus on the saving doctrines rather than waste all their time addressing anti-mormon material.

    Since anti-mormon material is very well addressed at the links I showed above (there’s also some mostly-official-church-responses too like those at http://farms.byu.edu and http://www.lds.org/newsroom/mistakes/0,15331,3885-1,00.html), I also take the same tack as LDS missionaries: focus on the saving doctrines. However if you’d like to discuss anti-mormon material personally with me then please leave me a personal message and I’d be happy to oblige. I can assure you there is very little that I haven’t already heard in one form or another, and for reasons discussed in my Dec 23 post there is nothing that can pose a threat to my current beliefs in spiritual matters.

    Comment by lullabyman — January 2, 2007 @ 4:14 pm

  14. […] No No! That wasn’t them! Filed under: — lullabyman @ 3:54 am I said in an earlier blog this was going to happen.  As Mitt Romney’s chances of winning increase we’re going to […]

    Pingback by No No No! That wasn't them! « LullabyMan — May 1, 2007 @ 3:55 am

  15. […] What am I talking about? I’m talking about the most one-sided and history-selective treatment of the Mormon church that has ever been wrongly portrayed as a balanced treatment of the church.  I actually don’t have a problem with all the anti-Mormon media that honestly admits that it intends to be highly critical and not give a balanced view because at least those treatments are at least honestly disrespectful.  I’ll take honest disrespect over dishonest respect any time of the day. […]

    Pingback by Watch the Anti-Mormon-flavored PBS program “The Mormons” « Whorled View — February 9, 2008 @ 4:13 am

  16. To whom it may concern;
    Dear,sir or madam could you please explain that historical event of sep 11 1887? Since I have seen that movie I got no respect for the people who are affiliated from that institution,correct me if I am wrong or may be you got your spin but in reality that was horrible.What is your explanation?
    Sincerely

    Comment by Sal — June 17, 2008 @ 2:28 pm

  17. I think you mean about sept 11th 1857 (not 1887)…

    Your response is not surprising, and it is exactly what the producer’s intended. No offense is intended here, but I must ask … did you really think it was a documentary? The producers openly admit that they took tremendous “artistic liberty” in suggesting that those horrible actions were sanctioned by the LDS church in any way.

    As I’ve said in other places, I learned of the 1857 slaughter committed by Mormons of whole and defenseless families in my early teens and was horrified. My LDS youth teacher taught it 25 years ago to me as part of the curriculum. It isn’t as so many anti-LDS people have said, hush hushed, any more than the holocaust is hush hushed by the Germans. Yes there is shame that an LDS community did that. Tremendous shame. But even more than shame, there is mass confusion. Above all it simply shock the conscience into a dizzying level of bewilderment.

    To this day when I think of it I am still horrified and bewildered. Every LDS person I know is horrified by it, and simply cannot fathom how other LDS people could justify such actions, even if they were consumed by feelings of rage and revenge. Those feelings are completely foreign to anything any LDS person I know has ever been taught in church, and the actions themselves are all the more 180 degrees from anything I’ve ever been taught in church.

    If you want to know what really happened, I suggest you read the only 1st hand account that is considered to be 100% accurate by all parties. His name was John D. Lee and he was the only man who was tried, convicted, and hanged for the massacre. After you read his account you will likely be perturbed at the producers for misleading you, unless of course you’ve become so biased at this point that you won’t even be able to objectively read his account. Note that he does not say good things about Brigham Young, but he does not lay the massacre at his hands nor at the hands of the LDS church.

    Although there is no proof that the LDS Church or Brigham Young sanctioned the massacre, it is a fact that Young tried to protect John D. Lee, who was a long time friend. Of course, the defenses for this were that Young never knew the details of what happened, but this rings hollow to people who expect a prophet of God to know everything and be one with God himself. I, and many if not most LDS people, do not expect a prophet be be almost as God himself is, and so it doesn’t present a problem that he might have been in the dark for so long. In the end Young did implicate Lee, who at that point feigned innocence even though many of his own relatives pointed the finger at him as being one of the leaders.

    I had relatives who lived there, who did not participate in the massacre, and even did all they could to stop it (John Hawley riding night and day to SLC to get help to stop it), and according to them the children of the perpetrators were treated as pariah by the rest of the community. The leaders lost their church authority and died most friendless and destitute whereas they were at one point the pillars of the community.

    Don’t get your history from big budget films. If you want easily digestible history you’re better off with something like the wikipedia, and it’s even skiddish. Remember, movies are entertainment, and are designed to either push and agenda or make money. Rarely is the agenda to correct misunderstandings and more often than not serve to do just the opposite.

    Comment by lullabyman — June 21, 2008 @ 8:06 pm


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