Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Mormon Heretic: How is blogging exempt?

In priesthood meeting on Sunday, our high priest group studied Elder Quentin L. Cook's talk given during the April 2010 general conference. The following excerpt seems to have been written especially for bloggers:

"We need to be civil in our discourse and respectful in our interactions. This is especially true when we disagree. The Savior taught us to love even our enemies. The vast majority of our members heed this counsel. Yet there are some who feel that venting their personal anger or deeply held opinions is more important than conducting themselves as Jesus Christ lived and taught. I invite each one of us individually to recognize that how we disagree is a real measure of who we are and whether we truly follow the Savior. It is appropriate to disagree, but it is not appropriate to be disagreeable." (Ensign, May 2010, 83.)

This counsel stands in contrast to a recent Mormon Heretic blog discussion where there was a lot of mocking and belittling of President Ezra Taft Benson. I myself was severely criticized in the post and in the comments for trying to control uncivilized, disrespectful discourse on this, my own blog. One can only hope that our future blog discussions will more closely follow Elder Cook's wise counsel.


Blogger Tim said...

Blogging, of course, is not exempt.

I think, however, that Elder Cook was hoping that we'd use his talk to improve our own behavior, and not bash others over the head with it. After all, none of us is perfect.

12/01/2010 03:58:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

According to the dictionary, to bash is to strike with a heavy, crushing blow; to beat or assault severely. I didn't realize a polite reminder would be considered bashing. But, as President Hinckley once recalled, there is an old adage that says: "If the shoe fits, wear it." Besides, it wasn't intended for you anyway, Tim. Thanks for stopping by.

12/01/2010 09:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Nate said...

I agree with you that civility should extend to blogging. However, I wonder if the comments aimed at Pres. Benson were really intended to "mock" or "belittle" him or whether they were honest attempts to describe his particular political behavior? I suspect perhaps both. I guess my point is that while I admire your stalwart defense of Pres. Benson, is it not possible that someone equally honest could look at the evidence and reach conclusions that you would not reach? You must admit that you were using somewhat intemperate language in attacking those you perceived as attacking Pres. Benson.

12/01/2010 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...


Nate: The following books were written by Ezra Taft Benson. How many of them have you read? I've read all of them, again and again.

        So Shall Ye Reap (Deseret Book, 1960)

        The Red Carpet (Bookcraft, 1962)

        Title of Liberty (Deseret Book, 1964)

        An Enemy Hath Done This (Parliament, 1969)

        God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties (Deseret Book, 1974)

        This Nation Shall Endure (Deseret Book, 1977)

        Come unto Christ (Deseret Book, 1983)

        The Constitution, a Heavenly Banner (Deseret Book, 1986)

        The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (Bookcraft, 1988)

I’ve studied President Benson's life and teachings for more than 40 years. I made copies of his general conference talks long before they were available on the computer. I've spent hundreds of hours studyinig all 114 of them and cross referencing them to his books. I've also read the books and magazines he recommended in his writings.

Nobody can know Ezra Taft Benson like I knew him without gaining a profound feeling of love and respect for the man. I'm convinced that those who are critical of him today have not read his books, they have not read his conference talks, and they have not read the books he recommended. Their opinions are based primarily on the opinions of others.

I'm also convinced that if you yourself became familiar with President Benson as I have done and then read Heretic's post plus the 222 comments, you would not accuse me of using intemperate language.


12/01/2010 05:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Orwell said...

I've also read the books and magazines he recommended in his writings.

So, honest question, what do you think of these (and by these, I mean the John Birch stuff)?

12/02/2010 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Orwell, the books and magazines he recommended only fleshed out the thinking found in his own books and talks.

12/02/2010 06:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Orwell said...

That's not what I asked. What I want to know is what you think of them.

12/02/2010 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Orwell, I think they add valuable insight into the thinking of a man who spoke as a true prophet.

On several occasions, he recommended the Birch Society's news magazine, The New American (formerly American Opinion). Examples of this are found in Conference Report, Oct. 1962, Improvement Era, Dec. 1962, p.912; the Church News, Feb. 26, 1966, p.12; and in his book An Enemy Hath Done This, p.44.

In a 1986 letter to the magazine's editor, Benson ordered subscriptions to The New American magazine for his counselors in the First Presidency (Hinckley and Monson) and said: "Congratulations on a job well done. I am deeply grateful for The New American."

I think The New American magazine is still valuable reading for anyone who wants to stay informed about the more visible activities of that conspiratorial secret combination which, according to Benson speaking as Prophet, "is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world."

12/02/2010 07:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

gary, I read all the comments on mh's blog, and noted that he complained that you mischaracterized his comments, and I think you are mischaracterizing him again. he was not belittling the prophet. he was highlighting statements about the john birch society that you have ignored up to this point. disagreeing is not necessarily mocking and belittling.

12/02/2010 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger S.Faux said...

R. Gary:

Few men on earth have had a more positive impact than Ezra Taft Benson. The big picture of his teachings is still relevant and valuable.

Glad to hear your priesthood group had such a discussion on civil discourse. Some seem to think the blog world provides a license to abandon Christian principle. It is not. The blog world is, however, effective at revealing the personality flaws of some individuals, providing a rather permanent document of that fact.

You and I have our scientific disagreements, but I think that is where it ends. Skip the first couple of chapters of Genesis and I think we would see things the same way. ;)

12/02/2010 11:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Bishop Rick said...

R. Gary
Are the Prophet's that disagree(d) with Benson's politics also mocking and belittling him?

12/03/2010 12:14:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...


Anonymous, regarding Heretic's blog. Here are a few examples of what I'm talking about:

-------------- quote --------------
1. "you side with silly conspiracy theorists, and I find it laughable that anyone intelligent even bothers with them." 2. "utterly ridiculous conspiracy theories" 3. "Ezra Taft Benson’s silly words" 4. "people who espouse conspiracy theories generally fall in the not so good category, mostly because their theories rest on very poor and very flimsy evidence, and their real underlying goal is to attain power. Ironically, those who espouse conspiracy theories tend to be the very kinds of people they rail against: secret combination members." 5. "you are in a ridiculous position for backing a conspiracy nut" 6. "Benson was caught up in conspiracy stuff for decades." 7. "the conspiracy cult thrives" 8. "Benson’s support of Robert Welch and his sick claims about Eisenhower was extraordinarily wrong." 9. "Benson’s support of Welch plain nutty, wrongheaded and the damage continues until today." 10. "the opinions that Benson was backing. There is no valid defense." 11. "Benson was flat out wrong in his support of the Society, Welch and the characterization of Eisenhower. End of story." 12. "No need to sugar coat any statements about Benson simply because he outlived all the other Apostles before him. His views were flat out wrong and not in harmony with anyone claiming to represent a Christ-based faith." 13. "I believe Benson was sincerely wrong." 14. "In other words, R Gary is simply saying that Ezra Taft Benson actually didn’t change at all as a prophet, but found a more…respectable way to say exactly the same thing." 15. "Benson and Skousen should be absolutely ashamed to be associated with these attacks [ calling Eisenhower a communist ] . ASHAMED!!!" 16. "Honestly, allowing someone like Ezra Taft Benson to become prophet does not make me trust church leadership very much. There’s something about his words being so ridiculous that smacks in the face of the whole “glory of God is intelligence” belief in our church. He ought to be vilified within the LDS and non-LDS community because he was a power-hungry charlatan." 17. "Every book of his is a piece of crap. He’s a charlatan"
-------------- end quote --------------

12/03/2010 02:30:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Anonymous, I'm sorry, but I just don't agree with your assessment.

I think it is mocking someone's words to call them "laughable" and claim that anyone with intelligence wouldn't bother with them.

I think it is belittling someone's words to call them "utterly ridiculous". And the same holds for categorizing all people who believe Benson's conspiracy teachings as "not so good" and asserting that their beliefs "rest on very poor and very flimsy evidence".

It is not "ridiculous" to believe Benson, he is not "a conspiracy nut", he is not the leader of a "conspiracy cult".

It is one thing to disagree with Benson, quite another thing to claim he was "extraordinarily wrong", that he was "nutty", or "wrongheaded", and caused "damage" that "continues until today."

It is both belittling and mocking to say "there is no valid defense" for his opinions, or to assert that this major part of his ministry was "flat out wrong" and that he "should be absolutely ashamed" of it.

You and I evidently view it differently when someone asserts that Ezra Taft Benson "ought to be vilified" — as in to make vicious and defamatory statements about — "within the LDS and non-LDS community because he was a power-hungry charlatan."

I disagree that "every book of his is a piece of crap".

I just don't think the above comments were civil or that they contributed anything positive to a discussion of his views. You have every right to your opinion, but I have every right to characterize comments such as those quoted above as mocking and belittling.

12/03/2010 02:36:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

S.Faux, It is always refreshing to have your comments on this blog. As I've said before, I wish you could be part of my priesthood group. I would love to introduce you to the high priests in our group.

12/03/2010 02:43:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Bishop Rick, you can't cite even one single Church published instance of a modern apostle or prophet criticizing Ezra Taft Benson.

And please note, there are two members of the current twelve who have disagreed privately and it spilled over into the press. But those disagreements remain private, not Church published.

Ezra Taft Benson always followed the prophet. His loyalty and obedience are an example for all of us.

12/03/2010 02:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did Mormon Heretic make all 17 of those comments that you attribute to him? Because it sure seems like you are falsely attributing nearly all of those comments. That looks like you're guilty of false attribution.

Is this blog post an attempt to highlight your righteousness and Mormon Heretic's wickedness? Seems like you're a bit guilty of President Benson's caution against pride. I can't help but think this post is your personal rameumptum where you're showing the world your righteousness and thanking God that you're not so wicked like Mormon Heretic. Pride a problem here? Hi kettle, meet pot.

12/03/2010 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Anonymous, I think it is a cheap, dishonest blogging trick for you to assert that all 17 of those comments were attributed by me to Mormon Heretic. My post says he hosted a discussion "where there was a lot of mocking and belittling of President Ezra Taft Benson." The fact that some of it was in the comments of others doesn't negate what I said.

I view the rest of your comment about pride and rameumptums as an inappropriate personal attack that has nothing to do with whether or not blogging is exempt from Elder Cook's counsel or whether that counsel was violated repeatedly in Mormon Heretic's discussion about Ezra Taft Benson.

12/03/2010 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger Latter-day Guy said...

As an avid reader of LDS blogs, I occasionally see this site listed on Mormon Archipelago. About once a year I ask myself, "Why don't I read NDBF more often?" And then I read it. And then I remember. This post was like a booster shot.

So toodles till next December!

12/03/2010 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Latter-day Guy, a year from now would be fine. Thanks for visiting.

12/03/2010 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

R. Gary,

You are right: civil discourse has a place in blogging as well as elsewhere.

Of course people can be civil even when they disagree. (I suspect that members of the 12 are that way with one another when they disagree.)

I also agree that President Benson was a remarkable servant of the Lord who blessed many lives through his service. That some disagreed with his political views is inevitable, but it does not discount his devotion to the Lord, nor his service to the Lord's children.

12/03/2010 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

I appreciate that comment, Paul. Thank you!

12/03/2010 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Anonymous: Okay, you didn't appreciate my "unrighteous judgment" of your comment.

Let me explain. I've noticed that some bloggers act like they don’t understand. Maybe they can’t meet an issue head on because their counter-argument is weak, or non-existent. So, acting like they don't understand, they fashion a strong rebuttal to something that wasn't even said and post that. Bingo. The illusion is created that they won.

Your comment questioned that Mormon Heretic "made all 17 of those comments" — the ones you say I attributed to him. But nobody attributed those 17 comments to Mormon Heretic — not me and not anyone else on this thread.

You claim to have read "all the comments on mh's blog" (there are more than 200 of them) and I take it from that you must be literate. Yet on this blog you don't understand. You shoot me down on things I didn't even say.

Dude, that's dishonest.

12/03/2010 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Walther von der Vogelweide said:

-------------- quote --------------
"Reading that quote from Elder Cook and then what it brought to your mind I thought,... you'll be better off if you keep in mind what Brigham Young said about hell's bells and the blessings that flow when they ring. If people hurt your feelings online just because you type the truth and those ... bloggers take it to be hard, you're laying up treasure for yourself in heaven. R.Gary FTW."
-------------- end quote --------------

Thanks for the kind words, Walther.

12/30/2010 07:13:00 AM  

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