Dolores Umbridge and the Christian Right

December 10, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 11:50 pm   Category: Life,Mormon Culture/Practices

Steven King is quoted as saying that the character Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series of books is the “greatest make-believe villain to come along since Hannibal Lecter” [1] I think he is right on. I can’t think of a more despicable and grating and wicked fictitious villain in recent years either. The thing about Dolores Umbridge though is that it seems to me she is simply a personification and caricature of what we like to call the “Christian Right” in America.

If you have not read the Harry Potter series of books or have not seen the most recent movie (which features Ms. Umbridge) you may not know what I’m talking about here. Dolores has all the ingredients needed to make one’s skin crawl. She plays the sweet innocent role to perfection, complete with a simpering voice and (in the movie at least) all pink wardrobes to go along with her love for kitty cats. But it is all a front to cover a cruel, conniving, pitiless, bigoted, unforgiving, uncharitable, ungracious, hypocritical and bullying person on the inside. Dolores is cordial but not kind. She is saccharine but not truly sweet. She is a gleaming white sepulchre with rotting stench in the middle. In other words she is a true villain.

Lately every time I read something about the Christian Right in America (specifically Evangelicals) I find myself thinking “Dolores Umbridge would fit right in with those folks”. The most unkind, ungracious, unChristlike screeds and comments on the Web and at blogs seem to always come from the evangelicals — the same folks who claim to have the essentially exclusive claim on salvation through Jesus. For every basically harmless nice-guy evangelical on the Web there seem to be armies of scumbag evangelicals spewing their venom upon the world. Something ain’t right here folks.

Look, I’ve never been much into politics. I have always leaned Republican when I have voted in the past, but lately I am finding the far right to be far more scary and more despicable than the far left. Any candidate or cause they support I am becoming leery of… Is it just me?

And maybe the key question is how do we as Latter-Day Saints avoid being Dolores Umbridges in politics and in life in general? How do we avoid associating ourselves with Dolores Umbridges in politics and in life in general? And how many people think Mormons are already a bunch of Dolores Umbridges too? (Besides UofU fans of course…)

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[1] See King’s review ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ here

45 Comments »

  1. Geoff:

    This appears to be an attempt at a self-righteousness base post we discussed through e-mail a few months ago. Good for you. I am interested to see what comes of it.

    I am not familiar with this character from Harry Potter. But I can imagine her. This type of hypocracy is something that Christ clearly spoke out against and thought of as a great evil. We must be very careful not to be like this character.

    But there seems to be a great irony in this. Is it a streatch to say that the accusations of blasphemy against Christ was the people accusing him of extreme self-righteousness?

    Is there not an irony in calling people out for being like this character? Will there not be somebody who may think of you as being self-righteous for doing so?

    So how do we avoid being thought of as being Umbridge like? In the ultimate sense, I think it is impossible. Unless you never take a moral stand on anything, unless you never attempt to perfect the saints, unless you never attempt to do missionary work. To avoid being thought of as self-righteous you probably need to keep your mouth shut, and live your religion in secret.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — December 11, 2007 @ 7:25 am

  2. I think that you are right on Geoff — except that it isn’t all coming from evangelicals. It is open season on Mormons. I believe that this election will be a watershed when Mormons generally will begin to move away from the Republican party. I think that they will realize that they are in bed with people who believe that Mormons aren’t worthy of political office and wouldn’t get a vote simply because of their religion. That is reason enough to renounce the Republican party to the extent it is controlled by the evangelical agenda. I don’t want to be part of that.

    The dilemma is that I doubt that Mormons will move to the left where they face the venom and mirror-image bigotry of folks like Larry O’Donnel, Marueen Dowd and Errol Louis — bigots as much as the far right, anti-Mormon evangelicals. That leaves us, once again, without a home and without folks who really want us to be part of their party. The New York Times has unleashed its attack dogs and demonstrated that open-aired bigotry and ridicule is a la mode and it’s OK to caricature and openly question all Mormon beliefs and the integrity of all Mormons. This is a sad time in our history — as a nation. Errol Louis, an articulate if myopic commentator reminds me that in America every young girl and person of color can hope to grow up to be President of the United Stated — but not Mormons. We aren’t fit by reason of our beliefs. Dolores Umbridges every one. I would have thought that a person who had identity with a group that had suffered so much prejudice would not engage in such prejudice, but it is a forlorn hope. He can quote Brigham Young in sad and deplorable statements about blacks, but Southern Baptist leaders who were writing much worse things during the same time period get a pass. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t defend Brigham Young. I just think that his picking and choosing is prejudicial and historically myopic.

    You are also correct about the evangelical scumbags. I wrote a piece about plurality of gods here and openly challenged Aaron Shafovallof to engage the discussion based upon the biblical evidence of responsible scholarship. We got a silence from him that resounded so loudly that it spoke volumes. His web-site is a reproduction of every pot-shot taken at Mormons. He spins everything casting his beliefs in the most charitable and saccharin light possible while taking the worst possible spin on anything Mormon. That is the definition of a bigot and anti-Mormon in my view.

    So what is a Mormon to do? Let’s inspire evangelicals to actually be the Christians they claim to be. Let’s show the far left what true tolerance and acceptance are. Let’s create a party or parties that are actually the representatives of the ideals that they claim. Let’s do all that we can to make this nation worthy of the blood of its sons and fathers and mothers and daughters. Let’s face the reality that right now there are many in both parties who shame the blood that has been spilled and shame the name of Christ that they claim. Let’s teach them that a Christian isn’t one who cries that they are saved and glories that every one else is going to hell, but one who shows love.

    Comment by Blake — December 11, 2007 @ 7:36 am

  3. But it is all a front to cover a cruel, conniving, pitiless, bigoted, unforgiving, uncharitable, ungracious, hypocritical and bullying person on the inside. Dolores is cordial but not kind. She is saccharine but not truly sweet. She is a gleaming white sepulchre with rotting stench in the middle. In other words she is a true villain.

    This sounds like the Grinch song. “You’re a foul one, Mrs. Umbridge. You’re a nasty, wasty skunk. Your heart is full of unwashed socks. Your soul is full of gunk. Mrs Umbridge!”

    Comment by Pam J — December 11, 2007 @ 7:55 am

  4. Just because I feel like a contrary vote needs to be chimed in.

    Most people I know think that the LDS church clearly fits squarely within the Christian Right.

    To me, Dolores represents the Passive Aggressive nature of anyone who lives there life based on what they want others to think of them, thus without thinking themselves. I personally think it is a mistake to lump any religious body or group in it’s intirity into such a category.

    Most anti-mormons I know are simply personally passionate about their own set of beliefs, however misconstrued they may be, while at the same time skeptical about my beliefs, however misconstrued their perception of the same may be.

    I think seeing an evangelical who questions my beliefs as a maliscious enemy is typically a form of self-deception.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 11, 2007 @ 8:00 am

  5. #1 Eric:
    Not being familiar with the character, I think you may misunderstand the original post a bit. Umbridge isn’t a pious person, victimized by left-wing types who attack her righteousness as self-righteousness. Quite the contrary. The woman is hugely Machiavellian, and truly cruel behind closed doors, all the while putting forth the public face of the next general relief society president. Geoff hits it dead on when he says she is a “whited sepulchre,” though the character actually does not make any reference to religious faith. If anything, Umbridge’s deity is herself–she’s power-hungry above all else.

    Comment by Nick Literski — December 11, 2007 @ 8:07 am

  6. Most people I know think that the LDS church clearly fits squarely within the Christian Right.

    Amen, and a few people I’ve met even perceive the LDS church as to the right of the “christian right.”

    Comment by Nick Literski — December 11, 2007 @ 8:09 am

  7. Matt: Most people I know think that the LDS church clearly fits squarely within the Christian Right.

    Matt, I’m missing something here. The fact is that the Religious Right has turned to bite off its own leg — and Mormons are the leg. The Church is actually more moderate on almost all issues. E.g., the LDS church is more moderate on abortion. It is more moderate on homosexual relations (only actions are sins, orientation is not). We’re more moderate on a host of issues. Here is the problem. It just isn’t acceptable to proclaim in generality what you think “most people think.” Here is what baffles me most. Before proclaiming that you think it is an error to “lump any religious body or group” that is just what you did. What gives?

    Comment by Blake — December 11, 2007 @ 8:18 am

  8. The Church . . . is more moderate on homosexual relations (only actions are sins, orientation is not).

    I beg to differ, Blake. The recent changes in LDS teaching on homosexual attraction have largely tracked those of the evangelical “ex-gay” movement, including the idea that orientation in itself is not sinful. LDS rhetoric has quite consistently followed the lead of these types, including verbatim use of language. This is also why you continue to see contradictions, such as stating on one hand that orientation may not change for everyone, while on the other hand publishing statements from NARTH (the North American Association for Repairative Therapy–an organization which considers homosexuality a mental disorder to be “cured”) in the Church News.

    These days, the “christian right” has largely retreated from the idea that orientation is sinful in itself. They’ve left that argument to extremists like of Fred Phelps and his Wesborough Baptist Church.

    Comment by Nick Literski — December 11, 2007 @ 8:38 am

  9. I should add that according to Mitt Romney, Gordon Hinckley met privately with Jerry Falwell, and the two entered into agreements to fight against gay rights initiatives in California. Whatever your personal views might be, the LDS church is squarely in bed with the evangelical “christian right” on this topic, Blake.

    Comment by Nick Literski — December 11, 2007 @ 8:40 am

  10. It just isn’t acceptable to proclaim in generality what you think “most people think.” Here is what baffles me most. Before proclaiming that you think it is an error to “lump any religious body or group” that is just what you did. What gives?

    Thus the Caveat “most people I know think…”

    Comment by Matt W. — December 11, 2007 @ 8:57 am

  11. After reading through the comments on The Huffington Post story about Lawrence O’Donnell’s Mormon melt down, I just feel sad and very discouraged.

    I do agree though, the left often confuses what they hate about us with what they hate about evangelicals. For instance, some were castigating Mitt Romney about creationism.

    Even the seeming “nice” evangelical you mention is not above trying to draw a link between the temple and a most heinous child abuse case.

    It just makes me very sad.

    Comment by C Jones — December 11, 2007 @ 9:03 am

  12. Sorry, I may have completely misread this post.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — December 11, 2007 @ 9:31 am

  13. This is very interesting. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where Mormonism best fits in politics. I agree with you Geoff, and you Blake, that the right (mostly the Christian right) has effectively turned on Mormonism (that is assuming they once were in our favor). However, I think there are principles that the Republican party still stands for that are very important, especially when it comes to what Mormons need. For example, they still stand for the right to keep and bear arms. In a world like to today’s world where Mormons stand alone, one of the most important rights we hold is a right to keep and bear arms. If we ever had to form a militia we could. Of course the left’s almost absolute hatred of the right to keep and bear arms has slackened a bit in recent years. I’ve read several articles by liberal scholars defending the right. Of course they are the exception to the rule still, and the Democratic party has no sympathies for the right to keep and bear arms. So, for now, I still vote Republican.

    Comment by Craig Atkinson — December 11, 2007 @ 10:30 am

  14. Although a case can be made that the Christian right has turned on Mormonism (in fact they probably didn’t turn on us but the attitude they’ve had about us all along has simply been exposed), I have been glad to see many conservative pundits and commentators stand up strongly in our defense. Blake mentions Larry O’Donnel, Marueen Dowd, and Errol Louis; compare their statements from the left to those of Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Pat Buchanan, Charles Krauthammer, and Fred Barnes on the right. There have been a number of conservative voices who have renounced the religious bigotry in the strongest terms.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 11, 2007 @ 10:39 am

  15. Nick: Where did Romney make the claim about Pres. Hinckley meeting with Jerry Falwell? I’m extremely skeptical. And I think you are kidding yourself if you think the ex-gay movement is widespread among evangelicals. Remember, they have a doctrine of a sinful human condition and not merely sinful acts like Mormonism.

    Comment by Blake — December 11, 2007 @ 11:35 am

  16. Jacob: You are correct to point to the many conservatives and evangelicals who have bravely stood up against bigotry — they just don’t get the same press time, do they?

    Comment by Blake — December 11, 2007 @ 11:36 am

  17. I have to admit as well I have had a lot of thinking on this issue. Personally, being from Canada I consider our most right wing party (Conservatives) to be rinos or blue democrats on a sliding scale. And the British Conservatives (which I voted for in Wales) to be somewhere in the moderate left of the Democratic Party.

    I think much of the democratic party today does not fit LDS values as seen through general authorities. The church in my opinion is a moderate republican force. It does not believe in libertarian values of market forces (welfare program) it does believe in socially conservative values as far as family and society go but probably not to the same sense as the Evangelicals.

    For Evangelicals (broad sweeping generalization ahead please watch your step) outward performances matter. You protest about Rated R movies for sex and violence and for video games while going on about Islamofascists and things of that nature.

    Even you faith is an Outward performance.

    I consider Latter-day Saints more like Jews in that sense. We have an otherness quality which makes us different and strange. And like the middle ages when Jews were claimed to sacrifice children and cook their blood in the matzah at passover we are also claimed to do all sorts of weird things in our temples.

    Getting back to the politics, I think the church will remain realtively republican as long as the democrats are run by people who think we are deluded nuts. As well our historic concern about PC secularism which remains in the democratic party will keep most out.

    But that does not mean there will not be an LDS person who votes Democrat, socialist or whatever because they do for very secular reasons.

    Comment by JonW — December 11, 2007 @ 1:23 pm

  18. Blake, I certainly understand your hesitancy to believe that Romney claims Gordon Hinckley was meeting with the likes of Jerry Falwell. Romney made the claim during an interview with Christianity Today which you can find here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/september/34.74.html

    To excerpt the relevant part:
    Question: How do you think relations between Mormons and Trinitarian Christians have changed during your lifetime?
    Answer: I don’t know that there’s been a significant change relating to doctrine. [But] several months ago, not long before he died, I had the occasion of having the Rev. Jerry Falwell at our home. He said that when he was getting ready to oppose same-sex marriage in California, he met with the president of my church in Salt Lake City, and they agreed to work together in a campaign in California. He said, “Far be it from me to suggest that we don’t have the same values and the same objectives.”

    Believe me, Blake. Reality is too interesting for me to make up wild stories. Feel free to apologize for semi-softly accusing me of lying. If the story is false, the liar would be Romney.

    Of course, those who believe Romney’s claim that no church leader would ever influence his decisions as a POTUS may find it interesting that Romney (a) knows such intimate private dealings of the First Presidency, and (b) feels he has the right or permission to share them publicly, when it suits him.

    Also, I’m sorry, but you are simply wrong in your assessment of the evangelical “ex-gay” movement. If you would like to actually read up on the topic, I’ll be glad to recommend some books and other readings.

    Comment by Nick Literski — December 11, 2007 @ 1:28 pm

  19. may find it interesting that Romney (a) knows such intimate private dealings of the First Presidency

    Ummmm… Didn’t he say he heard it from Jerry Falwell? Since that is the case it has to do with his relationship with Falwell not his relationship with the First Presidency.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 11, 2007 @ 1:52 pm

  20. Nick: What does same sex marriage have to do with whether same sex orientation as opposed to same sex acts are sinful? Isn’t it about “rights” and privileges bestowed by the State as opposed to religious assessments of worthiness? I’m glad that you pointed out the specific language Romney stated (apparently) to Christianity today.

    Further, how does Falwell’s statement show in the least that Romney is somehow influenced by Pres. Hinckley who wasn’t there? I think his response is appropriate because the question was precisely how the relation between Mormons and “Trinitarian Christians” had changed. What’s wrong with sharing this vignette?

    I suggest that you aren’t quite aware of how evangelical theology assess sinful status and how it relates to homosexuality. I accept that you know a great deal more about how homosexuals are treated by evangelicals and Mormons.

    Comment by Blake — December 11, 2007 @ 1:53 pm

  21. #19: Point taken, Geoff. Thanks.

    Comment by Nick Literski — December 11, 2007 @ 2:21 pm

  22. I’m glad that you pointed out the specific language Romney stated (apparently) to Christianity today.

    Do you have any evidence that Christianit Today made it up, Blake? Did Romney send out a press release, saying that he never claimed that the president of his church makes backroom deals with televangelists?

    Comment by Nick Literski — December 11, 2007 @ 2:27 pm

  23. Nick: I’m surprised at your response. I don’t now and have never suggested that Christianity Today didn’t say what you suggested. I don’t understand the purpose of a question about what Romney claims about back room deals.

    Comment by Blake — December 11, 2007 @ 3:20 pm

  24. Blake, most would read your parenthetical “apparently” as an indication that you doubt the report. I had all the more reason to read it that way, since you basically accused me of lying when I initially brought up the story.

    Comment by Nick Literski — December 11, 2007 @ 3:34 pm

  25. Nick: I didn’t accuse you of lying at all. I suggested that the meeting with Pres. Hinckley may not have occurred as you suggested because the source is hearsay. In fact they didn’t meet “to fight against gay rights initiatives” as you suggested, but to “oppose same-sex marriage” according to Romney according to Falwell. Are you suggesting that you have no questions about such double hearsay within hearsay? I think you’re reading a lot more into what I have written than what I thought I was writing.

    Comment by Blake — December 11, 2007 @ 4:05 pm

  26. Nick: Let me add an apology for giving you cause to choose to take offense.

    Comment by Blake — December 11, 2007 @ 4:16 pm

  27. “basically harmless nice guy evangelical”

    I don’t think you would find this description in mainstream American media reporting on a Christian fundamentalist.

    Hasn’t it been said over and over, “fundamentalists of all stripes are scary.”

    Don’t you think the author of the Harry Potter series would say Miss Umbridge is the mean, cruel, stereotypical Christian fundamentalist while the loving, wise, kind leader of Hogwarts is liberally gay and spiritually beyond institutional religion and its authorities?

    Comment by Todd Wood — December 11, 2007 @ 4:45 pm

  28. Three days ago I would have thought that Craig’s comment #13 was a little extreme. Then I read a comment in a Romney discussion by a guy who was bragging in delight about being a descendant of the man (Symonds Ryder) who was responsible for the tarring and feathering of Joseph Smith. He was positively gloating.

    There are those who not only hate us, which I can deal with, but who wish us harm. The terms these people use and the accusations they make against Mormons are right out of the evangelical anti-Mormon propaganda machine.

    So, yes, now I do think they are scary.

    Comment by C Jones — December 11, 2007 @ 5:15 pm

  29. So Huckabee is now going to ask the question in print: Are Jesus and Satan brothers? See: http://www.sltrib.com/ci_7693729 That does it, his campaign has finally entered the Bozo stage of politics.

    My response? That is the question of an ignoramus who doesn’t see the soft-spots of his own views. Yes, this doctrine is the view that even the worst of us have a common Father. Even a brother of a saint can make choices that create mayhem and pain.

    Now for the evangelical version: Do you really believe that God created Satan out of nothing with perfect knowledge that Satan would inspire all of the evils in the world like rape, genocide and war? Why doesn’t he see that as the tougher question?

    Comment by Blake — December 11, 2007 @ 7:27 pm

  30. You ask a tough question, Blake.

    I just read an article in Harper’s magazine (Dec. 2007), “And lead us not”. Read it Blake. It is a tough issue. I will put it on my blog in the morning.

    Comment by Todd Wood — December 11, 2007 @ 7:44 pm

  31. I can’t believe that Huckabee is now the front runner in Iowa. I agree with Blake that that guy is an Ignoramus. That isn’t the only absolutely stupid thing he’s said. If Romney loses in Iowa, then the only reason is because he’s a Mormon. Otherwise, Romney is leaps and bounds a better (and smarter) candidate than Huckabee.

    Comment by Craig Atkinson — December 11, 2007 @ 9:16 pm

  32. Craig: I can’t believe that Huckabee is now the front runner in Iowa.

    I can. Mostly because I’ve come to realize that the total knuckleheads of this world outnumber the non-idiots by a wide margin.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 11, 2007 @ 9:45 pm

  33. Todd: Hasn’t it been said over and over, “fundamentalists of all stripes are scary.”

    Yes. And truer words were never spoken in my opinion.

    Don’t you think the author of the Harry Potter series would say Miss Umbridge is the mean, cruel, stereotypical Christian fundamentalist while the loving, wise, kind leader of Hogwarts is liberally gay and spiritually beyond institutional religion and its authorities?

    Seems like a reasonable assumption. I would largely agree with her I think. I feel another post coming on…

    Comment by Geoff J — December 11, 2007 @ 9:47 pm

  34. Nice post … in regards to the Dolores Umbridge character, I had never put my feelings into words … but she really did make my skin crawl. I have not been a huge fan of the Harry Potter series – but I think Stephen King’s assessment of this character and the comparison to Hannibal Lecter are very well put.

    Thanks for writing this up. It really gave me something to think about. I may have to go back and watch the movie that has this character again – just to pay more attention.

    The odd thing was that Hannibal Lecter was horrifying but fascinating as well – because of his creepy intelligence and profound insight into the psychology of others. On the other hand, when Dolores Umbridge came onscreen – I simply hated her. She didn’t seem to offer insight into anything at all. Still, now that the comparison has been made, she does make for a very interesting character study.

    Comment by danithew — December 12, 2007 @ 7:59 am

  35. #25: Thanks for the clarification, Blake, and I apologize if I was too quick to think you were making an accusation (and thus made an accusation of my own…sigh).

    I differ with you, as you might expect, on your parsing of language. Opposing marriage equality is certainly a matter of opposing equal rights for homosexuals. I understand, of course, that it’s fashionable to say otherwise among those religious conservatives who have received enough education to find their own bigotry embarassing.

    Comment by Nick Literski — December 12, 2007 @ 8:04 am

  36. Thanks for the link Blake. If you wanted to go for a more politically interesting question (but less theologically interesting) you could ask Huckabee: “Don’t evangelicals believe Catholics are going to hell?” (each week you could substitute something new for “Catholic”; “Muslims” the second week, and so on.)

    My favorite part of that article was this:

    The article, to be published in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, says Huckabee asked the question after saying he believes Mormonism is a religion but doesn’t know much about it.

    Nice. What’s next, are Mormons human?

    Comment by Jacob J — December 12, 2007 @ 10:13 am

  37. Apparently the “I think it’s a religion” comment was in response to the question “Do you think Mormonism is a cult or a religion?” so that part is not as bad as I thought. However, after reading more, the rest of the stuff is as bad or worse as first impression would suggest.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 12, 2007 @ 10:31 am

  38. The only necessary response to Huckabee’s preaching is a public showing of the documentary, “Jesus Camp.” ;-)

    If those folks are the ones who will make up Heaven, you can send me to Hell any day!

    Comment by Nick Literski — December 12, 2007 @ 10:51 am

  39. I know many members of the Christian right. You’re being as prejudiced towards them as some of them are towards us.

    Comment by Adam Greenwood — December 12, 2007 @ 3:46 pm

  40. Huckabee apologizes… http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/huckabee.mormons/index.html

    That’s good enough for me. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that it was heart-felt and sincere. I suggest we let go of this one and move on.

    Comment by Blake — December 12, 2007 @ 4:47 pm

  41. Fair enough. As a public service announcement to all presidential candidates: Never say something to a reporter thinking they won’t put it in the article (duh). On a related note: There is always a mic and it is always on. Just ask Cheney.

    Comment by Jacob J — December 12, 2007 @ 4:57 pm

  42. “The most unkind, ungracious, unChristlike screeds and comments on the Web and at blogs seem to always come from the evangelicals — the same folks who claim to have the essentially exclusive claim on salvation through Jesus.”

    Geoff, I’d have to take issue with that.

    You ever hung out on a forum where the atheists are taking pot shots at Mormons?

    Believe me, it’s every bit as bigoted, close-minded, and mean spirited.

    And let’s not even get started on angry ex-Mormons (who don’t usually seem to be going evangelical).

    Blake,

    I’ll agree with you on the limited point that Aaron’s blog is essentially a propaganda factory and is not really interested in giving Mormons a fair shake. I wouldn’t name-call him though.

    Comment by Seth R. — December 12, 2007 @ 5:42 pm

  43. I’ve been so saddened by so much of what I’ve read over the last few days. I’m old enough to remember when we were encouraged to know how to “Bible Bash” with Protestants. In my teen years, I read the New Testament largely to find counter arguments rather than to benefit from the teachings of Jesus and his apostles. Now, _most_ of the bashing now seems to be coming from the other side. The current public scrutiny of Mormonism (but so unscrutinizing) has highlited these old fights, and opened old wounds, and it will be very difficult to maintain the attempted detente.

    I note this from 3 Nep 6:

    “…some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God.”

    The not turn and revile again is, of course, an echo of Peter who says, regarding a Christian’s discpleship:

    “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps …

    Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not …”

    I also think of many recent comments about forgiveness by Pres Hinckley and Pres Faust.

    As usual, the scriptures note the times and prescribe the cure. I’ve got my own powerful feelings of sadness and anger, it is difficult to bridle them. I’ve deleted more posts in the last two weeks … and it is even harder to find fellow feeling for people who mischaractarize our beliefs in the most cartoonish and ludricrous ways. But, somehow, we need to find those feelings, I think.

    Sorry if this sounded like a sermon – it is a real deep struggle with me, right now.

    ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — December 13, 2007 @ 10:27 am

  44. I read a lot of political boards, mostly right-leaning. I see my share of anti-Mormon bigotry. I also see a number of LDS folk responding in different ways – some trying to disarm with humor, others attempting to find common ground, still others defending, and yet still others whose defense veers into offensiveness.

    On those sites where combativeness is used most frequently, the contention levels are palpable, and the battling Mormons are as disliked as the most over-the-top Anti types. What I also see is that the haters do themselves little good in swaying the people in the middle, who may think LDS beliefs are (goofy, wrong, etc.) but who find LDS values admirable and LDS people – generally – good.

    I respond rarely to specifics of our faith, because the forums in question are rarely fit locales for “casting pearls before swine” (most political sites are hog wallows by nature). I also try to resist because I can tell by my own blood pressure from which source the urge to reply originates.

    The older I get, the more I see the dangers of contentiousness, which Christ said is of the Devil. Our detractors have a point when they comment that some of our church’s worst memories came from “fighting back” and putting our trust in the strength of flesh or firearms. Evil is growing in strength and in boldness…but this brazenness also pushes many in the middle to choose the right, or at least defend it.

    Comment by Jim W — December 13, 2007 @ 11:34 am

  45. Christian Righter Wingers and LDS Iron Rods, I invite you to meet: “Sign of the Gun,”

    Chambridge University’s veneral journal _Granta_ has just published lds writer PD Mallamo’s short story “Sign of the Gun” on its website:

    http://www.granta.com

    scroll down to “New Voices”

    Mallamo’s story was picked for Granta’s FIRST “New Voices” feature on its website.

    !!!The story has an LDS woman character.
    It’s rough, tough, edgy story with a gentle, compassionate ending.

    LDS Iron Rods and Evangelical Right Wingers will stand on one foot and then the other if they read “Sign of the Gun.”

    The LDS hunter/gatherer/gun guys will love the story, and suprisingly, I think most lds women will like it too. What do you do with a story like that?

    Mallamo wrote the cover story, “Anythang Will Do,” in _Sunstone_ a few issues back.

    Larry Day

    Comment by larry day — April 17, 2008 @ 8:43 am

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