Episode 64: Returned Sister Missionary Panel

213 comments on “Episode 64: Returned Sister Missionary Panel”

  1. NightAvatar Reply

    Just finished. This was refreshing!

    I almost turned it off right before the Heather chipmunk bit. Man that was funny! 🙂

    There were a few sister haters in my mish too, but the majority were pretty cool towards them. I think the general feeling was that the sisters were pampered more, often had cars (not always, but more often than the Elders), spent more time in their apartments and less on the streets, kicked it with members most of the time instead of teaching, were liked and treated better by the pres, and those sorts of things.

    Still, I think most Elders liked them and really wanted to be able to serve in an area with sisters. Not all areas had sisters, in fact most didn’t.

    Thanks for sharing! This was great. Tom, you’re an excellent interviewer. I like your personality. 🙂

  2. NightAvatar Reply

    Just finished. This was refreshing!

    I almost turned it off right before the Heather chipmunk bit. Man that was funny! 🙂

    There were a few sister haters in my mish too, but the majority were pretty cool towards them. I think the general feeling was that the sisters were pampered more, often had cars (not always, but more often than the Elders), spent more time in their apartments and less on the streets, kicked it with members most of the time instead of teaching, were liked and treated better by the pres, and those sorts of things.

    Still, I think most Elders liked them and really wanted to be able to serve in an area with sisters. Not all areas had sisters, in fact most didn’t.

    Thanks for sharing! This was great. Tom, you’re an excellent interviewer. I like your personality. 🙂

  3. Zilpha Reply

    I enjoyed listening to this. One issue that I wish one of the ladies could comment on, is how was is having young guys in leadership positions over you simply due to the fact that they were men and you were women?

    Also, what was it like having to wear a skirt everyday, even on bikes?

    • jax Reply

      You read my mind, Zilpha. I was wondering that one as well when the discussion centered on the “sister haters.” I believe it, I’ve heard guys go on and on about the sisters in their missions, and not so kindly. I know Tom’s temporary AP story had nothing to do with it, but I wonder what it was like for the women who were always under some young guy’s thumb all of the time. We had a sister missionary in an old ward I was who was close to 40. She was not a happy person anyway. Imagine dealing with the Priesthood leadership of a kid young enough to be your kid!
      Good discussion. Kudos to Kay, Heather, and Laura for their collocetive openness. Listening to their varied experiences was very interesting.
      jax

    • Laura Reply

      Generally, the elders on my mission worked well with the sisters. I didn’t usually feel like I was being oppressed by the priesthood. We tended to spend a lot of time together doing street contacting, in meetings, or teaching which I think helped both the elders not exercise unrighteous dominion and the sisters got input in a lot of the district decisions. The age difference was annoying at times because I felt so much more mature than some of the elders acted, but I really didn’t think about it that often.

      Of course there were times (like the bike story I wrote below) that made me upset at leadership that really didn’t understand women’s issues. The decree to lose weight or buy new clothes (again, see below) should have angered me because it didn’t pertain to elders, but I understood the reasoning so I was happy to comply. If I had a problem, I was comfortable enough with the elders and my MP that I would complain.

    • Heather Reply

      Skirts on bikes probably has to be the worst invention known to man, especially when its cold and windy which it frequently is in Ohio. I really hated my time on a bike mostly because it was winter and because no matter what there is no way, for me at least, to ride a bike with out my skirt hiking up and my garments showing. It was so frustrating and embarrassing.

      I never thought about having younger men being in leadership over me it was just the norm at the time. I do remember wishing that there was an opportunity for sisters to advance in leadership because you became senior companion and your progress was complete but I never voiced those thoughts because I was obeying the priesthood.

      • Glenn Reply

        Skirts + Bikes + invented my man. ‘Nuff said.

        I wonder if the young men authoritizing over the older women just conditions the women to ignore their husbands more completely.

  4. Zilpha Reply

    I enjoyed listening to this. One issue that I wish one of the ladies could comment on, is how was is having young guys in leadership positions over you simply due to the fact that they were men and you were women?

    Also, what was it like having to wear a skirt everyday, even on bikes?

    • jax Reply

      You read my mind, Zilpha. I was wondering that one as well when the discussion centered on the “sister haters.” I believe it, I’ve heard guys go on and on about the sisters in their missions, and not so kindly. I know Tom’s temporary AP story had nothing to do with it, but I wonder what it was like for the women who were always under some young guy’s thumb all of the time. We had a sister missionary in an old ward I was who was close to 40. She was not a happy person anyway. Imagine dealing with the Priesthood leadership of a kid young enough to be your kid!
      Good discussion. Kudos to Kay, Heather, and Laura for their collocetive openness. Listening to their varied experiences was very interesting.
      jax

    • Laura Reply

      Generally, the elders on my mission worked well with the sisters. I didn’t usually feel like I was being oppressed by the priesthood. We tended to spend a lot of time together doing street contacting, in meetings, or teaching which I think helped both the elders not exercise unrighteous dominion and the sisters got input in a lot of the district decisions. The age difference was annoying at times because I felt so much more mature than some of the elders acted, but I really didn’t think about it that often.

      Of course there were times (like the bike story I wrote below) that made me upset at leadership that really didn’t understand women’s issues. The decree to lose weight or buy new clothes (again, see below) should have angered me because it didn’t pertain to elders, but I understood the reasoning so I was happy to comply. If I had a problem, I was comfortable enough with the elders and my MP that I would complain.

    • Heather Reply

      Skirts on bikes probably has to be the worst invention known to man, especially when its cold and windy which it frequently is in Ohio. I really hated my time on a bike mostly because it was winter and because no matter what there is no way, for me at least, to ride a bike with out my skirt hiking up and my garments showing. It was so frustrating and embarrassing.

      I never thought about having younger men being in leadership over me it was just the norm at the time. I do remember wishing that there was an opportunity for sisters to advance in leadership because you became senior companion and your progress was complete but I never voiced those thoughts because I was obeying the priesthood.

      • Glenn Reply

        Skirts + Bikes + invented my man. ‘Nuff said.

        I wonder if the young men authoritizing over the older women just conditions the women to ignore their husbands more completely.

  5. Oz Reply

    Good job Tom. I’ll admit it, I actually liked all the Sisters I served around. Probably because, Sister missionaries brought my family into the church, and I really respected and knew the sacrifice they had to make to serve a mission.

    The ones I served around were actually really cool and laid back. My wife is an RM, and she would tell me about these crazy eating disorders that existed within most of her mission with the Sisters.

    I’m curious if depression, eating disorders, ect.. were common amongst the Sisters in your mission?

    • Laura Reply

      Uh, no eating disorders in my mission that I knew of. I mean, it was Italy. Everything revolves around food. Everything. I gained 40 pounds by mid mission, and I wasn’t the only one. It was such a problem that the mission president finally started strongly encouraging sisters to work out for at least half an hour in the morning. So, I did and lost a little before I got home, but still kept eating like… an American in Italy.

      Depression seems to be ever present. I was pretty happy as were most of my companions. We had as much fun as possible but there was the specter of depression that accompanies many missionaries who don’t feel like they’re living up to their potential and their salvation is on the line, like Kay said.

  6. Oz Reply

    Good job Tom. I’ll admit it, I actually liked all the Sisters I served around. Probably because, Sister missionaries brought my family into the church, and I really respected and knew the sacrifice they had to make to serve a mission.

    The ones I served around were actually really cool and laid back. My wife is an RM, and she would tell me about these crazy eating disorders that existed within most of her mission with the Sisters.

    I’m curious if depression, eating disorders, ect.. were common amongst the Sisters in your mission?

    • Laura Reply

      Uh, no eating disorders in my mission that I knew of. I mean, it was Italy. Everything revolves around food. Everything. I gained 40 pounds by mid mission, and I wasn’t the only one. It was such a problem that the mission president finally started strongly encouraging sisters to work out for at least half an hour in the morning. So, I did and lost a little before I got home, but still kept eating like… an American in Italy.

      Depression seems to be ever present. I was pretty happy as were most of my companions. We had as much fun as possible but there was the specter of depression that accompanies many missionaries who don’t feel like they’re living up to their potential and their salvation is on the line, like Kay said.

  7. kaylanamars Reply

    Only looking back on it now can I see how weird it was looking up to these young elders. According to how I was raised, in my mind, since these elders held the priesthood that meant they were able to some how know more than me. I was supposed to be able to rely on them for this awesomely sound advice! Of course, some of them just said I don’t know, I’m in the same boat and then there were others who really lapped it up and gave out their sage advice. So it’s kind of disturbing as I think back on it, but at the time it just seemed the norm.

    Wearing a skirt everyday, along with Sunday type shoes and nylons was horrible. It just never felt comfortable and even the dresses I wore were from Utah and didn’t even fit in with the fashion in the Canary Islands. So I really stood out like a sore thumb. But never had to ride a bike so can’t comment on that one!

    • Laura Reply

      I wish I had thought about the bikes while we were recording the podcast. I rode bikes for half of my mission (the other half was public transportation, no cars). Bikes were left in an area to be used by whoever was assigned there. Sisters were only allowed to ride girl bikes, and they were the crappiest girl bikes ever. In one area we had a bike that was literally held together by bailing wire. The idea behind girl bikes was that the skirts wouldn’t fly up as much. Great in theory, in practice though, everyone would ask us about our white biker shorts. One companion had the really great idea for a contraption that would hold our skirts to the horizontal bar of a boy bike so the skirts wouldn’t fly up. It wouldn’t work on a girl bike because the bar curved down too far. She presented it to the mission president who shot it down :(.

      Bikes were a bone of contention between sisters and elders in the bike areas. The elders always had nice bikes. So nice that they had to dismantle them whenever they locked them up outside so as to deter thieves. Sisters could leave their bikes unlocked in the middle of a park full of thieves and they wouldn’t be stolen because they were so crappy. I have no idea why that was. I would be very disappointed if it was because the mission president thought the elders deserved better bikes. I think it was just because girl bikes tended to be lower quality in general.

      • Laura Reply

        Fashion was very important in Italy. I knew that before I left to I bought mostly women’s skirt suit type things. Around the time that the mission president began requiring work out time, he also recommended buying some new clothes because a lot of the sisters were looking too… dowdy? Italians dress up for everything while Americans really don’t. It was a really cultural thing. Sisters tended to just wear what was comfortable. Elders don’t seem to have that problem because a suit is a suit.

        All that being said, panty hose were not required. Fishnets were in style there so lots of sisters had a pair of those. I only had one pair of heels which were only worn for special occasions and only if I didn’t have to walk or ride my bike. In the winter I just wore knee high wool socks with leggings under my skirt. I had some knee high boots as well as some Doc Martins boots that were fully accepted. Summer we could wear sandals (elders and sisters). No flip flops, though :).

      • kaylanamars Reply

        Wow, Laura! that’s crazy about bikes on your miss! Maybe that would have been the last straw for me!

  8. kaylanamars Reply

    Only looking back on it now can I see how weird it was looking up to these young elders. According to how I was raised, in my mind, since these elders held the priesthood that meant they were able to some how know more than me. I was supposed to be able to rely on them for this awesomely sound advice! Of course, some of them just said I don’t know, I’m in the same boat and then there were others who really lapped it up and gave out their sage advice. So it’s kind of disturbing as I think back on it, but at the time it just seemed the norm.

    Wearing a skirt everyday, along with Sunday type shoes and nylons was horrible. It just never felt comfortable and even the dresses I wore were from Utah and didn’t even fit in with the fashion in the Canary Islands. So I really stood out like a sore thumb. But never had to ride a bike so can’t comment on that one!

    • Laura Reply

      I wish I had thought about the bikes while we were recording the podcast. I rode bikes for half of my mission (the other half was public transportation, no cars). Bikes were left in an area to be used by whoever was assigned there. Sisters were only allowed to ride girl bikes, and they were the crappiest girl bikes ever. In one area we had a bike that was literally held together by bailing wire. The idea behind girl bikes was that the skirts wouldn’t fly up as much. Great in theory, in practice though, everyone would ask us about our white biker shorts. One companion had the really great idea for a contraption that would hold our skirts to the horizontal bar of a boy bike so the skirts wouldn’t fly up. It wouldn’t work on a girl bike because the bar curved down too far. She presented it to the mission president who shot it down :(.

      Bikes were a bone of contention between sisters and elders in the bike areas. The elders always had nice bikes. So nice that they had to dismantle them whenever they locked them up outside so as to deter thieves. Sisters could leave their bikes unlocked in the middle of a park full of thieves and they wouldn’t be stolen because they were so crappy. I have no idea why that was. I would be very disappointed if it was because the mission president thought the elders deserved better bikes. I think it was just because girl bikes tended to be lower quality in general.

      • Laura Reply

        Fashion was very important in Italy. I knew that before I left to I bought mostly women’s skirt suit type things. Around the time that the mission president began requiring work out time, he also recommended buying some new clothes because a lot of the sisters were looking too… dowdy? Italians dress up for everything while Americans really don’t. It was a really cultural thing. Sisters tended to just wear what was comfortable. Elders don’t seem to have that problem because a suit is a suit.

        All that being said, panty hose were not required. Fishnets were in style there so lots of sisters had a pair of those. I only had one pair of heels which were only worn for special occasions and only if I didn’t have to walk or ride my bike. In the winter I just wore knee high wool socks with leggings under my skirt. I had some knee high boots as well as some Doc Martins boots that were fully accepted. Summer we could wear sandals (elders and sisters). No flip flops, though :).

      • kaylanamars Reply

        Wow, Laura! that’s crazy about bikes on your miss! Maybe that would have been the last straw for me!

  9. kaylanamars Reply

    Oz,

    Weight was really a big issue for many of the sisters. There were the ones that ate to combat the pressure and stress and gained a lot of weight (I think I only packed on 15 pounds in the beginning and then lost most of it towards the end). Or the other extreme were the sisters “fasting” a lot and getting up uber early for exercise. But I think that could be fairly common on any mission…

    I hope Laura and Heather will comment on here as well for their thoughts!

  10. kaylanamars Reply

    Oz,

    Weight was really a big issue for many of the sisters. There were the ones that ate to combat the pressure and stress and gained a lot of weight (I think I only packed on 15 pounds in the beginning and then lost most of it towards the end). Or the other extreme were the sisters “fasting” a lot and getting up uber early for exercise. But I think that could be fairly common on any mission…

    I hope Laura and Heather will comment on here as well for their thoughts!

  11. jax Reply

    How did you deal with road hazards, dogs, etc.? My husband talks about biting animals nearly pulling him off his bike, what would you do in a skirt???
    Required worout time? That’s crazy! And fashion advice from a MP? I thought missionaries had very strict budgets. How were you supposed to swing that?
    I enjoy your stories. Thanks for sharing!
    I second what Oz said. Very good, Tom. Great hosting!
    jax

    • Laura Reply

      Jax,
      You have to understand that this was Italy. They are REALLY fashion conscious. It’s not that the MP was noticing all that much, but the people were noticing. I had members telling me to dress up a little more. You know how out of place you feel when you wear something like a jogging suit to a formal dinner? That’s how we looked. Anyway, I know many of you won’t appreciate this but, our budget was increased by a little bit for a couple of months so we could buy some new clothes. Not a new wardrobe, just stuff that wasn’t so… slovenly American. I actually think it was the MP’s wife and another sister missionary that brought it to his attention since he kind of held the purse strings.

      The required workout time was great for me. I was used to working out at home and it was hard to fit it in as a missionary. We weren’t required to get up earlier, we were just given an extra half hour to exercise. I think the elders were also given that time. I’m not fully sure of that, though.

      • jax Reply

        Laura,
        Thanks for the explanation! I think I understand it better. I was thinking it was one of those things where you are told to do something next to impossible, like have a bunch of kids, stay home, stay out of debt, but have food storage and a great image in the community.
        I guess I can see how that would be better than the MP expecting you to stand out the other way. I like that the women in the missiom were able to go to bat for you. Thanks so much for sharing.

  12. jax Reply

    How did you deal with road hazards, dogs, etc.? My husband talks about biting animals nearly pulling him off his bike, what would you do in a skirt???
    Required worout time? That’s crazy! And fashion advice from a MP? I thought missionaries had very strict budgets. How were you supposed to swing that?
    I enjoy your stories. Thanks for sharing!
    I second what Oz said. Very good, Tom. Great hosting!
    jax

    • Laura Reply

      Jax,
      You have to understand that this was Italy. They are REALLY fashion conscious. It’s not that the MP was noticing all that much, but the people were noticing. I had members telling me to dress up a little more. You know how out of place you feel when you wear something like a jogging suit to a formal dinner? That’s how we looked. Anyway, I know many of you won’t appreciate this but, our budget was increased by a little bit for a couple of months so we could buy some new clothes. Not a new wardrobe, just stuff that wasn’t so… slovenly American. I actually think it was the MP’s wife and another sister missionary that brought it to his attention since he kind of held the purse strings.

      The required workout time was great for me. I was used to working out at home and it was hard to fit it in as a missionary. We weren’t required to get up earlier, we were just given an extra half hour to exercise. I think the elders were also given that time. I’m not fully sure of that, though.

      • jax Reply

        Laura,
        Thanks for the explanation! I think I understand it better. I was thinking it was one of those things where you are told to do something next to impossible, like have a bunch of kids, stay home, stay out of debt, but have food storage and a great image in the community.
        I guess I can see how that would be better than the MP expecting you to stand out the other way. I like that the women in the missiom were able to go to bat for you. Thanks so much for sharing.

  13. Glenn Reply

    Nice work Tom. I enjoyed hearing from each of these three sweet sisters (that’s not an insult… I promise). So a question for you all (Tom was way too gentlemanly to ask) — did you ever flirt with any of the elders, or in any other way use sexuality as a missionary tool? DId you tell stories or anything as a way to vent sexual frustration or live vicariously through the stories — I seem to recall a lot of stories like that shared among the elders I served with — maybe it was just me.

    (Also, my grandparents met on their missions and talked about how they would “steal a kiss” and play a game of pennies when they worked in the mission home together — this was in the late 1930s).

    Cheers!

    • Laura Reply

      I was never so bold. I had lots of friendships with elders, but I couldn’t say that I ever flirted overtly with any of them. There was one native elder near the end of my mission that wrote me a love note when I left the area. He wanted me to wait for him until he got home 21 months later and meet him at BYU. He was a sweet guy but I didn’t feel that way about him. I did end up going out on one date with my first zone leader when I got home. That didn’t work out, either.

    • kaylanamars Reply

      Most of the elders I served with were just great guys, but in the brotherly since. They were just so young and at the time I had a boyfriend who was also on his mission so maybe that made it easier. But I was never one to flirt much in any case.

      I vented my sexual frustration through my letters to my missionary boyfriend! he he.

  14. Glenn Reply

    Nice work Tom. I enjoyed hearing from each of these three sweet sisters (that’s not an insult… I promise). So a question for you all (Tom was way too gentlemanly to ask) — did you ever flirt with any of the elders, or in any other way use sexuality as a missionary tool? DId you tell stories or anything as a way to vent sexual frustration or live vicariously through the stories — I seem to recall a lot of stories like that shared among the elders I served with — maybe it was just me.

    (Also, my grandparents met on their missions and talked about how they would “steal a kiss” and play a game of pennies when they worked in the mission home together — this was in the late 1930s).

    Cheers!

    • Laura Reply

      I was never so bold. I had lots of friendships with elders, but I couldn’t say that I ever flirted overtly with any of them. There was one native elder near the end of my mission that wrote me a love note when I left the area. He wanted me to wait for him until he got home 21 months later and meet him at BYU. He was a sweet guy but I didn’t feel that way about him. I did end up going out on one date with my first zone leader when I got home. That didn’t work out, either.

    • kaylanamars Reply

      Most of the elders I served with were just great guys, but in the brotherly since. They were just so young and at the time I had a boyfriend who was also on his mission so maybe that made it easier. But I was never one to flirt much in any case.

      I vented my sexual frustration through my letters to my missionary boyfriend! he he.

  15. Swearing Elder Reply

    I think one of the issues about sister missionaries is that a few give all of them a bad name and it stands out more because there are comparatively so few in a given mission. Thus, two problem-sister-mishies out of 20 seem like “the sisters are a pain” whereas 10 problem-elders out of 100 don’t seem to give all elders a bad name. The “problem sisters” seemed to be regarded as representative of sister missionaries in general while “problem elders” were just bad apples.

    It’s a double standard, for sure, but I remember hearing about “those problem sisters” when I was in leadership positions in the mission. I remember one or two sisters that required more attention from the mission office than all the others combined — constant trips to the hospital, constant need to visit with the mission prez or his wife, etc.

    Nice work, Tom, Kay, Laura, and Heather. I enjoyed hearing these perspectives. BTW, it turns out that Heather and I connected by one-degree of separation. My friend emailed me yesterday to say, “Heather on the ME podcast is my sister-in-law.” Small world!

    • kaylanamars Reply

      Yeah, my last companion ended up having to have surgery and was pretty much out for the last four months of our missions. The poor zone leaders had to take us to the hospital the first time to figure out what was going on with her and one almost passed out as they gave her an IV. Good times other than the life-threatening thing my companion got. So we definitely had constant trips to the hospital for before and after surgery for about three months and then we only had one month left to go total. So her trips were definitely legit. just felt like sharing the experience!

      • Laura Reply

        When I had mono I was constantly trying to make up for my illness. I worked as hard as I could and rarely complained. I did have to take naps in the afternoon and I had to see several doctors and have blood tests which cut into things. All in all, though, I think I got through it without making myself into a martyr or forcing the other missionaries to take up too much slack.

  16. Swearing Elder Reply

    I think one of the issues about sister missionaries is that a few give all of them a bad name and it stands out more because there are comparatively so few in a given mission. Thus, two problem-sister-mishies out of 20 seem like “the sisters are a pain” whereas 10 problem-elders out of 100 don’t seem to give all elders a bad name. The “problem sisters” seemed to be regarded as representative of sister missionaries in general while “problem elders” were just bad apples.

    It’s a double standard, for sure, but I remember hearing about “those problem sisters” when I was in leadership positions in the mission. I remember one or two sisters that required more attention from the mission office than all the others combined — constant trips to the hospital, constant need to visit with the mission prez or his wife, etc.

    Nice work, Tom, Kay, Laura, and Heather. I enjoyed hearing these perspectives. BTW, it turns out that Heather and I connected by one-degree of separation. My friend emailed me yesterday to say, “Heather on the ME podcast is my sister-in-law.” Small world!

    • kaylanamars Reply

      Yeah, my last companion ended up having to have surgery and was pretty much out for the last four months of our missions. The poor zone leaders had to take us to the hospital the first time to figure out what was going on with her and one almost passed out as they gave her an IV. Good times other than the life-threatening thing my companion got. So we definitely had constant trips to the hospital for before and after surgery for about three months and then we only had one month left to go total. So her trips were definitely legit. just felt like sharing the experience!

      • Laura Reply

        When I had mono I was constantly trying to make up for my illness. I worked as hard as I could and rarely complained. I did have to take naps in the afternoon and I had to see several doctors and have blood tests which cut into things. All in all, though, I think I got through it without making myself into a martyr or forcing the other missionaries to take up too much slack.

  17. Chelsea Reply

    I enjoyed this podcast so much, thanks to all the participants!

    I always appreciate hearing about the good AND bad from people’s missions, since talking about the bad parts is so taboo in LDS culture. I served a mission in France and experienced such severe depression and anxiety that I chose to go home early. The LDS Family Services counselor I met with once I was home told me I should have gone home months before, I was in such a bad place. Looking back I value my mission, especially the relationships I formed there with companions and local church members, although if I could go back in time I’m not sure I’d do it again.

    Oz, I was one of those sisters who had an eating disorder, and I knew several others who did as well. It’s such a stressful time that if you already have those tendencies, they’re going to resurface.

    • Carey Reply

      Ditto — I really enjoyed hearing the good AND bad made it feel more real. This is exactly why I like this site.

  18. Chelsea Reply

    I enjoyed this podcast so much, thanks to all the participants!

    I always appreciate hearing about the good AND bad from people’s missions, since talking about the bad parts is so taboo in LDS culture. I served a mission in France and experienced such severe depression and anxiety that I chose to go home early. The LDS Family Services counselor I met with once I was home told me I should have gone home months before, I was in such a bad place. Looking back I value my mission, especially the relationships I formed there with companions and local church members, although if I could go back in time I’m not sure I’d do it again.

    Oz, I was one of those sisters who had an eating disorder, and I knew several others who did as well. It’s such a stressful time that if you already have those tendencies, they’re going to resurface.

    • Carey Reply

      Ditto — I really enjoyed hearing the good AND bad made it feel more real. This is exactly why I like this site.

  19. Brian Reply

    I have to say that the sister missionaries in my mission as a whole were great. On the other hand, there were one or two self righteous grouches who were there because they could not be married. The one that I remember the best was always extremely condescending to all the elders, and was not well liked.

    On the other hand, the others were industrious, friendly (in the way they are supposed to be), and really just good people. Even the one that started a fire in her apartment at 1:00 am in the middle of the Russian winter (insomniac). I was either the DL or ZL, and we had to walk about a couple of miles there and back (we got back around 4 am) to help her clean it up and interact with the fire department and apartment owner. I was happy to do it because she was part of the team and a cool sister.

    I guess what I am saying is that I heartily agree with the swearing elder. You have a grouch or maybe two, but as a whole the sisters were pretty cool and nice to have around.

    • Kim Reply

      @ Brian: I am just curious, how do you know this sister “could not be married”? I find it hard to believe that chances for marriage diminish that much upon reaching the young age of 21. Just sayin’. Also, how exactly do you define “self-righteous”? I have found that sometimes. . . not always of course. . . but sometimes, some tend to call someone “self-righteous” who actually just keeps commandments or rules a little better than they themselves do. Just as a side note, I never went on a mission.

  20. Brian Reply

    I have to say that the sister missionaries in my mission as a whole were great. On the other hand, there were one or two self righteous grouches who were there because they could not be married. The one that I remember the best was always extremely condescending to all the elders, and was not well liked.

    On the other hand, the others were industrious, friendly (in the way they are supposed to be), and really just good people. Even the one that started a fire in her apartment at 1:00 am in the middle of the Russian winter (insomniac). I was either the DL or ZL, and we had to walk about a couple of miles there and back (we got back around 4 am) to help her clean it up and interact with the fire department and apartment owner. I was happy to do it because she was part of the team and a cool sister.

    I guess what I am saying is that I heartily agree with the swearing elder. You have a grouch or maybe two, but as a whole the sisters were pretty cool and nice to have around.

  21. brandt Reply

    I agree with all the guys about sisters in my mission. 90% of them were awesome, really wanted to be there, hard workers, really cool, etc. The 10% that weren’t were either grouches or literally looking for their next husband through the elders.

    In our mission, there was some sister-hate by some elders, but it was mostly because they were highly esteemed by both the mission president and his wife. So they had special privileges (both known and unknown) that the elders didn’t have. I guess some of them felt slighted, but for me, I kinda felt that they deserved it, seeing as many of them were going on a mission by personal choice, not church edict.

    Questions I wanted to know:
    – How did you handle over-zealous teenage (19 year old) Elders?
    – Did you ever find you were treated differently by the members because you were a sister? (I know our sisters had wonderful relationships with the members, a lot better than the elders)
    – How did you handle the constant pressure to perform with high numbers?
    – Laura, you mentioned going out and shopping for new clothes (which, Korea is the same way, you were required to look good because it’s a reflection of your status)…what did the sacrament meetings look like? Were the Italians trying to Americanize themselves, or did they keep their culture’s style?

    Thanks! Good interview, Tom!

    • Laura Reply

      Brandt,
      Italy is already very western, so they really didn’t have to change styles. Generally, the styles we see in the US come by way of Europe so they are actually a few years ahead of us. The clothes I brought back were not stylish here until a few years later. I was kicking myself that I had not done more shopping in Italy (clothing was generally less expensive there because of the exchange rate) and just held on to them for a while.

      People are very stylish there. They have outfits for every occasion. For example, people have special outfits for hiking that they wouldn’t be caught dead wearing out for a casual stroll. The fact that we wore our P-day clothes for doing whatever we had to do on P-day was so odd for Italians. So, church clothes were just for church and they looked pretty much like what we wear to church in the US, albeit a bit more stylish (no denim dresses for sure, I think an Italian would faint dead away if they were forced to wear a denim dress for any occasion).

      The only way I saw that they wanted to Americanize was they wanted to have better employment opportunities in the US. The sad part of that is, those who did end up in the US were forced to work menial jobs for too little money. But, by golly, they looked good doing it :).

  22. brandt Reply

    I agree with all the guys about sisters in my mission. 90% of them were awesome, really wanted to be there, hard workers, really cool, etc. The 10% that weren’t were either grouches or literally looking for their next husband through the elders.

    In our mission, there was some sister-hate by some elders, but it was mostly because they were highly esteemed by both the mission president and his wife. So they had special privileges (both known and unknown) that the elders didn’t have. I guess some of them felt slighted, but for me, I kinda felt that they deserved it, seeing as many of them were going on a mission by personal choice, not church edict.

    Questions I wanted to know:
    – How did you handle over-zealous teenage (19 year old) Elders?
    – Did you ever find you were treated differently by the members because you were a sister? (I know our sisters had wonderful relationships with the members, a lot better than the elders)
    – How did you handle the constant pressure to perform with high numbers?
    – Laura, you mentioned going out and shopping for new clothes (which, Korea is the same way, you were required to look good because it’s a reflection of your status)…what did the sacrament meetings look like? Were the Italians trying to Americanize themselves, or did they keep their culture’s style?

    Thanks! Good interview, Tom!

    • Laura Reply

      Brandt,
      Italy is already very western, so they really didn’t have to change styles. Generally, the styles we see in the US come by way of Europe so they are actually a few years ahead of us. The clothes I brought back were not stylish here until a few years later. I was kicking myself that I had not done more shopping in Italy (clothing was generally less expensive there because of the exchange rate) and just held on to them for a while.

      People are very stylish there. They have outfits for every occasion. For example, people have special outfits for hiking that they wouldn’t be caught dead wearing out for a casual stroll. The fact that we wore our P-day clothes for doing whatever we had to do on P-day was so odd for Italians. So, church clothes were just for church and they looked pretty much like what we wear to church in the US, albeit a bit more stylish (no denim dresses for sure, I think an Italian would faint dead away if they were forced to wear a denim dress for any occasion).

      The only way I saw that they wanted to Americanize was they wanted to have better employment opportunities in the US. The sad part of that is, those who did end up in the US were forced to work menial jobs for too little money. But, by golly, they looked good doing it :).

  23. Astounded Reply

    I had a riot on my mission and loved the Elders. We got along great. I did howewver, have issues with the ones who were a little caught up in the “male dominant” stage. I was told during one of the “special sister conferences” that the reason I was on a mission was to learn how to support the priesthood.

    Too bad for my husband . . . I’ve been kicking and screaming ever since, well until we realized how wrong it all was.

  24. Astounded Reply

    I had a riot on my mission and loved the Elders. We got along great. I did howewver, have issues with the ones who were a little caught up in the “male dominant” stage. I was told during one of the “special sister conferences” that the reason I was on a mission was to learn how to support the priesthood.

    Too bad for my husband . . . I’ve been kicking and screaming ever since, well until we realized how wrong it all was.

  25. Elder Wackoff Reply

    WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT

    I thought we would hear about some sister missionaries who were exmormons.

    “Great experience, wonderful, blah blah….”

    BOOORING!!!!

    I wanted to here how the sister missionaries were getting it one with each other and the boyz!

  26. Gunnar R. Reply

    As I remember from my mission days in the Danish Mission, the LMs were generally well-regarded by the male missionaries. They definitely seemed to be more mature, on average, than the elders, which should not be surprising, both because women, in general, tend to mature earlier than men and because the average age of the LMs was higher than that of the elders. They tended to report fewer hours in all their proselyting statistics than the elders, but I am not sure how much of this was due to them simply being more honest in their reporting and less prone to exaggerate their statistics.

    One very notable difference was that the LMs seemed to have considerably more trouble acquiring fluency in the Danish language. This may have been partly due to the well known fact that the younger one is, the easier it is to learn and acquire fluency in an additional language, though it may seem odd that the mere two years difference in age between 19 and 21 would make such a striking difference.

    I remember one amusing incident when all the missionaries in our zone got together in Aarhus to celebrate the American thanksgiving holiday, with the LMs in the zone being responsible for preparing the traditional Thanksgiving food. The LMs confused the sugar with the salt while making American style lemon meringue pies and mistakenly measured out and put in salt where the recipe called for sugar. When they realized their mistake, they tried to cover it up by just doubling the amount of sugar the recipe called for and putting that in as well. As you can imagine, those pies were absolutely inedible, causing the embarrassed LMs to be teased mercilously by the elders. What made it even more amusing is that the word for salt is the same in both Danish and English, so they could not even credibly use language difficulties to excuse their confusion.

  27. Gunnar R. Reply

    As I remember from my mission days in the Danish Mission, the LMs were generally well-regarded by the male missionaries. They definitely seemed to be more mature, on average, than the elders, which should not be surprising, both because women, in general, tend to mature earlier than men and because the average age of the LMs was higher than that of the elders. They tended to report fewer hours in all their proselyting statistics than the elders, but I am not sure how much of this was due to them simply being more honest in their reporting and less prone to exaggerate their statistics.

    One very notable difference was that the LMs seemed to have considerably more trouble acquiring fluency in the Danish language. This may have been partly due to the well known fact that the younger one is, the easier it is to learn and acquire fluency in an additional language, though it may seem odd that the mere two years difference in age between 19 and 21 would make such a striking difference.

    I remember one amusing incident when all the missionaries in our zone got together in Aarhus to celebrate the American thanksgiving holiday, with the LMs in the zone being responsible for preparing the traditional Thanksgiving food. The LMs confused the sugar with the salt while making American style lemon meringue pies and mistakenly measured out and put in salt where the recipe called for sugar. When they realized their mistake, they tried to cover it up by just doubling the amount of sugar the recipe called for and putting that in as well. As you can imagine, those pies were absolutely inedible, causing the embarrassed LMs to be teased mercilously by the elders. What made it even more amusing is that the word for salt is the same in both Danish and English, so they could not even credibly use language difficulties to excuse their confusion.

  28. Dr. Shades Reply

    Male returned missionary (served in Japan) here.

    Very interesting podcast. In our mission, the sisters were so much more successful than the elders that I started thinking (and continue to think) that sisters could and should be made district leaders, zone leaders, and A.P.s.

    Kay, Heather, and Laura: What are each of your feelings now vis-a-vis the truthfulness of the church? I know one of you made it clear, but I can’t remember if the other two commented either way.

  29. Dr. Shades Reply

    Male returned missionary (served in Japan) here.

    Very interesting podcast. In our mission, the sisters were so much more successful than the elders that I started thinking (and continue to think) that sisters could and should be made district leaders, zone leaders, and A.P.s.

    Kay, Heather, and Laura: What are each of your feelings now vis-a-vis the truthfulness of the church? I know one of you made it clear, but I can’t remember if the other two commented either way.

  30. SimplyMe Reply

    Oh I needed this. I am a returned missionary. Served from 1995-1997. I, too, was deeply frustrated in the MTC and throughout my mission with a military mission prez. I left the church 10 years ago b/c I couldn’t control my anxiety anymore and I thought it best to get the source of stress out of my life. As I think back now to my first major episode with anxiety it was on my mission. I thought anxiety happened b/c I had a faith crisis about the temple and the priesthood. Maybe that is part of it but it happened in the context of living a stressful mission life. Maybe I can get my faith back about the temple and the priesthood if I consider that it happened with I lived the mission environment.

    I wish I could recall my mission with fond memories that overrule the bad ones. I wish I could feel love for it. I do feel love for it when I think of the people and the mounds of kindness that was shown towards me simply b/c I was serving. But the mission itself has a bad taste in my mouth.

    Thank you for you interviews. I think that there are many who felt the way I did and the alone-ness I feel is b/c no one ever talked about it.

  31. SimplyMe Reply

    Oh I needed this. I am a returned missionary. Served from 1995-1997. I, too, was deeply frustrated in the MTC and throughout my mission with a military mission prez. I left the church 10 years ago b/c I couldn’t control my anxiety anymore and I thought it best to get the source of stress out of my life. As I think back now to my first major episode with anxiety it was on my mission. I thought anxiety happened b/c I had a faith crisis about the temple and the priesthood. Maybe that is part of it but it happened in the context of living a stressful mission life. Maybe I can get my faith back about the temple and the priesthood if I consider that it happened with I lived the mission environment.

    I wish I could recall my mission with fond memories that overrule the bad ones. I wish I could feel love for it. I do feel love for it when I think of the people and the mounds of kindness that was shown towards me simply b/c I was serving. But the mission itself has a bad taste in my mouth.

    Thank you for you interviews. I think that there are many who felt the way I did and the alone-ness I feel is b/c no one ever talked about it.

  32. Candace Petersen Reply

    I served my mission on Temple Square from ’05-’07. Loved listening to this! Temple Square is a little different experience, thats for sure.
    Since getting home, I’ve started an online webstore for sister missionaries- Sorella Bella. Even though the dress code is changing a bit, all of our skirts are still mission-approved. sistermissionary.com

  33. Candace Petersen Reply

    I served my mission on Temple Square from ’05-’07. Loved listening to this! Temple Square is a little different experience, thats for sure.
    Since getting home, I’ve started an online webstore for sister missionaries- Sorella Bella. Even though the dress code is changing a bit, all of our skirts are still mission-approved. sistermissionary.com

  34. Kyle Harris Reply

    I am one of those evil atheists who thinks that the commandents we hear taught to us are the ideas of men. However, I am glad to see you on here Mike. Obviously I disagree with most everything you said but I love the fact that this blog has such a wide variety of views.

  35. JB Reply

    Glad to hear your input, Mike! I’ve always valued your contribution to the podcast because of the balance it helps to bring, and it’s great to see that you’re blogging now as well.

    The way I read your post is similar to the way Richard reads it: that marriage (and, more specifically, temple marriage) is a law, such that anyone who neglects to marry in the temple is actively doing something immoral – since, after all, to disobey the law of God is to be a transgressor. Is that what you’re saying? I confess that I have a difficult time imagining that God gives to individuals absolute laws that can only be kept with the willingness of others; and in this case, in particular, it seems that an excessive absolutization to marriage stands in tension with certain teachings of Jesus and Paul.

    As an Evangelical, I tend not to think most naturally in terms of ‘law’ in quite this sense (though the language of ‘law’ is still quite pertinent, when nuanced carefully), but rather in terms of the gratitude that must be rendered to God for the gifts he has given – and this gratitude must be expressed through, among other ways, cultivating virtue and living accordance to God’s guidance for proper human flourishing. In that view, marriage is certainly the normal mode of human flourishing, generally speaking, and so God generally calls us to it, but also allows some to flourish individually through a celibate life dedicated to his service. (On the other hand, I agree in large part with your view on homosexual sexual activity, which is not a valid mode of human flourishing and in fact is staunchly contrary to God’s general yet absolute guidance and, indeed, his commandments.)

    • Tobin Reply

      JB,

      Keep in mind that TBMs consider temple marriage (and the resulting children) a law straight from God, a duty of all good Celestial Kingdom bound Mormons, and a saving ordinance (saving work). That is more or less the focus of the Mormon church in alot of their activities and messages. As a Mormon myself, I understand where Mike is coming from. However, I really think it is a poorly designed agenda being pushed within the organization and it causes alot of problems in and outside of the Mormon church. For example, there were alot of relatively young people marrying and subsequently getting divorced. This was primarily due to a lack of maturity in their social, educational, financial, and emotional backgrounds and is a direct result of this misguided advice. The consequence is young Mormons see what is happening to their friends and are becoming more and more resistant to following this ill-conceived advice. Thist causes the Mormon leadership to then chastise the youth more for not following thier dictates and so it goes.

      But little Mouse, you are not alone,
      In proving foresight may be vain:
      The best laid schemes of mice and men
      Go often askew,
      And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
      For promised joy! – Robert Burns

  36. Tobin Reply

    This is the perversion of Mormon doctrine that I don’t like very much and is always put out as the facts. While the facts are actually quite different. The thing that traditional Mormons neglect to think about (that is the label I’ll apply to Mike) is that Mormonism ensures that ALL people will ultimately be saved and things will be sorted out in the end. He is only correct about the need for everyone to be baptized and to be married. However, he neglects to mention that basically everyone will be baptized; everyone will have an opportunity to marry; and all this work will be done regardless of what the TBMs do right now or whether someone is Mormon or not. In fact, I’m pretty sure that alot of the stuff the TBMs are doing in the temples right now is screwed up and will have to be redone anyway and they are just wasting alot of their time doing alot of non-sense. Anyway, Mormons don’t believe in hell (only the hell we create for ourselves in the next life). Never have. Everyone will be saved and go to heaven (save a few that have seen God and then deny it – which doesn’t happen all that often). So, if you don’t feel Mormonism is true and you have no evidence for it. Don’t believe it for goodness sake. I feel it is more important to get in touch with God and do what God says than what any man says you “must” do to save your soul since undoubtedly they don’t know themselves.

  37. Wareswaldo Reply

    Although I understand the criticism levied against the conference talks regarding marriage, having served in a young singles ward Bishopric, the comments made complete sense to me. It was a constant frustration to us in the ward leadership to watch the young men in our ward 18-27ish, spend nearly all of their time doing everything BUT dating. Between video games and porn they seemed to have no need of the fairer sex leading to a far extended period of adolescence. As a consequence our young women in the ward took the dates they could get, which generally meant non-members, which brought it’s own set of problems.

    When I heard the comments about getting married, I did not really think of people like my 30 yr old sister who would love to get married but has only been taken on a handful of dates during her life. Rather, I thought of these immature yet capable young men who were scared of growing up, scared of the responsibilities that come with being a “provider” and consequently indulged in video games, big trucks, and the “flickering computer screen”. Their ideal companion seemed to be porn star chick that can hang in Call of Duty multi-player rather than a temple worthy sister who wanted to raise kids; or even more intimidating, as temple worthy sister who actually had better education, career aspirations and income potential than themselves as a result of their own apathy.

    There is a difference between failing to find a suitable match for marriage (which would not fall in the category of transgression of any kind), and simply removing ones-self from the dating game entirely out of sheer laziness or a refusal/fear of higher levels of responsibility and commitment i.e. a lack of willingness to get married. I believe the conference address was aimed primarily at those who were “unwilling to marry” as opposed to those who more or less “unable to get married” as a result of failed matching.

    • Richard of Norway Reply

      I appreciate your comment. And I think you’re probably right about their motives. However, I must ask: what’s wrong with those men being lazy, playing video games, dreaming of porn-star mates, and having zero interest in dating? What’s wrong with that if they’re happy and not harming anybody? What the leaders are promoting will potentially push these overgrown adolescents into marrying long before they’re mentally ready or mature enough to be a productive, good parent. In my eyes, that is some very bad and potentially very harmful advice.

      • Heather Reply

        Richard, I don’t think the two sides of this that you and Wareswaldo expressed will ever see eye to eye. People on Wareswaldo’s side believe that extended adolescence is basically sinful. They believe those young men should grow up and get on with the business of adult life. People on your side believe it’s a matter of “being happy and not harming anybody”. You don’t see it as something to be corrected. Wareswaldo does.

        My brother-in-law is from Mexico. When his father was 4, his father walked out on their family — disappeared forever. As a result, my brother-in-law’s father has been doing hard physical labor to support family (first his mother & siblings and then his own family) since he was 4 years old. LITERALLY. He moved to the USA when his children were small. (I think my brother in law was a baby.) Here, he was able to provide a much better life for his children than the one he had even though they grew up dirt poor. My brother-in-law and his siblings had the benefit of American affluence. As a result, there was no “need” for them to grow up and face the challenges of life.

        I personally think that extended adolescence is a byproduct of our extremely affluent society. It’s just one of those things that happens along side progress. It’s not even an unusual thing to talk about. How often do you hear discussions of people getting married at age 16 in the 1930s? Isn’t the common remark always, “Well, sixteen then was like 25 now”?

        Regardless of WHY extended immaturity happens and regardless of whether or not it’s sinful and in need of correction…. I agree with you that it’s a VERY VERY VERY bad idea to encourage people to marry when they are not ready to handle the responsibilities. We, as a responsible society, shouldn’t WANT young men or young women, to enter into such a serious commitment…. one that has eternal ramifications… until they are mature adults capable (and interested in) making the best possible choices.

        I married at 32. I guarantee you that I would have married at 20 if I had been given the opportunity. But, looking back now on those single years of my life, I can’t adequately express how GRATEFUL I am that I didn’t have the opportunity to marry so young. I wasn’t ready for it and I wouldn’t have made a wise choice in a partner. I also look around me at my friends and family members who did marry so young and I see the problems in their marriages and I can’t help but believe those problems exist because they were married before they were ready. I firmly believe that when people enter into a relationship when they are immature, there are certain immature mindsets and biases that express themselves for the entire “duration” of that relationship. Waiting to marry until I was a fully formed adult has blessed me with a wonderful marriage and a partner that is actually a good fit for me.

        Bottom line: Marriage doesn’t solve the problem of immaturity. On the other hand, marrying while immature causes a whole new set of problems — ones that often don’t have adequate solutions (broken homes, unfulfilled and unhappy lives, poorly raised children, the list goes on).

    • Elder Vader Reply

      The advice I heard in conference encouraging young men to get married didn’t seem likely to hit the intended target. They’re giving advice as if it were still the 1950’s. The value proposition of marriage – its risk/reward profile is significantly different now than it used to be fifty years ago when these GA’s were getting married. When my parents bought their first home 30 years ago their household income exceeded the cost of their home by a double digit percentage. Today people buy houses that cost double, triple, or even quadruple their annual household income. The divorce rate is much, much higher than it was 30-50 years back. The financial consequences of divorce are much different than they were years back. Even for college graduates (and for non college graduates the statistics are much, much worse) the best indicator that you will one day file for bankruptcy is the birth of a child.

      It is very shocking to me that anybody acts surprised that guys in their 20’s are taking more time to weigh their options. Guys in their 20’s and 30’s face a different landscape than men over 50 ever did, and there is simply no comprehension of this in the leadership ranks of the church.

      Anytime this subject comes up at church, part of me expects somebody to say something like: Look. We get it. This is a really tough decision for you. There are lots of risks here. But all risks aside, a monogamous relationship with somebody who you care about, and who cares about you is still the way to go for long term happiness and fulfillment. I know you look all over and see it falling apart for people. Let me teach you some things to make it work for you.

  38. Heather Reply

    So, applying your logic:

    Not only do our gay brothers & sister get to look forward to a lifetime of celibacy and loneliness, but they will also be denied exultation in eternity.

    Sure sounds like a plan of happiness to me.

  39. Elder Vader Reply

    http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/guest-post-athol-kay/

    Mike, I’ve pasted a link here from one of my favorite bloggers – Athol Kay. In my view it quickly explains why your jedi mind tricks don’t work on minds like John Larsen. Once you depart from the road of taking the scriptures literally – and I see that as an inevitability – then you’ve got to grapple with the fact that you can make the scriptures say basically anything you want them to say. Try it yourself. You can use the Book of Mormon to argue that God is a feminist, and you can argue from the Book of Mormon that God wants society structured in a very patriarchal way. You can use the scriptures to justify harsh ‘discipline’ or over indulgence of your children. You can argue for social justice, or Glenn Beck conservatism.

    Where ME resonates with me, is when it illuminates how my religion collides with my deepest held values. It forces my brain to re-synthesize, and look at the world fresh. Its for the same reasons that I’m glad you’re on the podcast too. I’m glad to see you’re blogging here. Keep em coming.

  40. Wes Cauthers Reply

    While Mike is often criticized here, his analysis of Mormonism always fits right in line with what is taught from the top of LDS Leadership. I for one, sincerely appreciate his contribution because it accurately represents what Mormonism is all about. If being justified by the law is what you want, that’s exactly what you get from the COJCOLDS. One’s standing with god is directly linked to how well one keeps the law.

    With that said, it is important to point out the clear teaching of grace in the New Testament. There are numerous examples to illustrate this, but here are just a few:

    John 1:17
    For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

    Romans 6:14
    For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

    Romans 11:6
    And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

    Galatians 2:21
    I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

    Galatians 3:18
    For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.

    Galatians 5:4
    You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

    Ephesians 2:8-9
    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

    The good news of Jesus (the word gospel means good news) is that everyone has been offered the gift of his righteousness (Romans 5:17) to receive by faith. Once that gift has been received, good works are the natural result motivated by gratitude and are evidence that one has in fact actually received the gift. It is key to understand that the gift is given prior to the resulting good works motivated by gratitude.

  41. tierza Reply

    Mike, I have to take issue with your underlying argument. Why does salvation require a “system of government”? You make the argument but don’t really defend it.

    Couldn’t there, at least theoretically, be a god who saved us from things like death, suffering, and other not-our-fault traumas of life? And if we decided that there does have to be a law, why, other than that you believe it, does that law HAVE to be the Mormon one?

    At my most devout I would not have agreed with you about what it means to follow God’s law. I came to understand the atonement as something that made the purpose of life, as a step in learning to become gods, possible. God understood that the choices we made in life would have consequences and that those possible consequences might keep us from living our lives to the fullest. God took, in an entirely miraculous way, the worst consequences of our sins (eternal separation from God among others) and made a way that those consequences could be separated from our actions. I imagined this as a kind of divine baby-proofing — its point isn’t to avoid all injuries, because injury is one of natural results of learning, but to mitigate injury — because of Christ we are able to experience life (the good and the bad) to the fullest, to make mistakes as we go and see our mistakes turned to good . . . This isn’t a view of God as an arbitrary lawmaker, but as a law-following God who cleared a path that would allow us the most freedom to try to become like Him (and fall down over and over again as we go).

    God is love. And love is both about setting boundaries and transcending them.

  42. Anonymous Reply

    What is the law? My favorite answer to that question is that given by the Jewish Rabbi, Hillel (who, if I am not mistaken) was a contemporary or near contemporary of Jesus, and possibly well known to him, and may well have influenced him. He said:

    “That which is hateful unto you, do not unto others. That is the entirety of the law; everything else is commentary.”

    I think that much of what passes for religious doctrine (including Mormon doctrine) is, compared to that, irrelevant, needless chaff that needs to be winnowed out because it too often obscures that important principle and sometimes actually interferes with its full implementation, by causing “true believers” to disparage, hate, persecute and sometimes even kill others who don’t happen to share the exact same belief system.

    I can’t believe that God would care in the slightest about whether or not anyone was baptized, or how or into which religion one was baptized. If anything, those who deal honestly and compassionately with their fellow beings, without any expectation or hope of punishment in a hereafter that they do not even believe in, would be even more highly regarded by a truly just and loving God than “true believers”, especially those who observe the above stated law all their lives mainly or only out of expectation of eternal reward or out of fear of eternal punishment for not doing so.

    Finally, I can think of nothing more foolish or barbaric than the idea that God could not forgive even repentant “sinners” unless someone who never did anything wrong volunteered to be cruelly tortured to death to atone for all those who had ever “sinned.”

  43. Tom Reply

    Hey Mike,

    I echo the complimentary comments, in reference of having you here on the blogs and occasionally on the podcast. Mike is fun to have around, but as the Word of Wisdom explains, all things in moderation.

    Mike, I consider you a friend and I do appreciate you apologizing up front to me personally, but would you mind elaborating just a bit on this line: “During the episode I participated in I struggled to find the appropriate words to explain to Tom (during the saturday pm conference podcast) something that he, as a priesthood bearer, should already know and understand.”

    I’m not offended. And I accept your apology. But, but how is this not you calling me out? As a priesthood bearer I should know the importance of marriage as YOU define it?? Don’t tell me that your definition on the importance of marriage is the same as how the church defines it. According to the practice done in the temples, everyone will have the chance to be married. I mentioned this in the podcast. My point still stands. So, why do they HAVE to be married so young?? Three GA’s in conference ENCOURAGED the younger members to get married. I went ahead and put the key word in all caps for ya. I wasn’t trying to yell, it was just my way of bolding it. There is no commandment of “when” someone should be married. None. Do we agree here?

    Do you see any of the potential negative consequences of this call from the Brethren to “encourage”, or guilt the young members of the church to marry young? Some will end up settling with someone that they don’t love. Some will find out in their marriage that they aren’t compatible with each other and end up miserable, or end up in divorce. I have many single friends who are constantly depressed because of this pressure and guilt. Why do they have to deal with all that unnecessary pressure and guilt? It is completely unnecessary. I would like them to just try to enjoy their lives. Single, or married. Besides, those that don’t get married, for what ever reason, can still have faith that they will get married in this life or the next.

  44. ff42 Reply

    If God loved us wouldn’t he be more like the Good Samaritan whom Jesus apparently praised in real life and not like the others who passed by? Did the Good Samaritan violate the victim’s agency? God in the flesh didn’t say so. What did the Good Samaritan have? Means (a ‘first-aid’ kit and money for the inn-keeper) and Opportunity (he was there soon after the crime occurred). Doesn’t God have infinite means and opportunity? If He truly loves us why isn’t he more like the Good Samaritan? Mike, you lost me at your first words, which don’t appear true.

  45. Alastor Moody Reply

    Mike, I sure hope that you and Tom and Glenn stay around — it adds a bit of color. Sure, I am a full-out apostate Atheist. But the color that you and the other “faithful” bring to the table is important and something that I think the podcast needs to keep around.

    • FWAnson Reply

      LOL. Actually that’s the great value that I see in having Mike on the ME team – he’s evocative AND provocative. Love or hate him – he always garners spirited discussion.

      My favorite John Larsen/Tom/Glenn line on a “Mike” podcast: “Oh Mike! Not again!”
      (actually I was saying in the car while listening to Mike long before it was “canonized”)

  46. FWAnson Reply

    – BUMP-

    Tobin (unregistered) wrote:
    “My intent was to ask the question – Is there any type of evidence that could possibly exist to demonstrate the point to his satisfacation given the arguments he has used?”

    MY RESPONSE
    To begin with you must explain why Gnostic sources are as credible and/or carry the same weight as the internal Biblical evidence given the following:

    1) The Biblical gospels were all written in the 1st Century AD.

    The Gnostic gospels were written at the earliest in the 2nd or 3rd Centuries AD. Some come from the 4th Century AD.

    2) The Biblical accounts were either written by first hand witnesses (Matthew and John), a scribe of a first hand witness (Mark), or a scholar who interviewed first hand witnesses (Luke).

    The Gnostic gospels weren’t written by first, or even second hand sources. We know this because based on their dates of authorship all first hand sources would have been dead.

    3) The Biblical gospel were intended to document the life and ministry of Christ for the ages.

    The Gnostic gospels were intended to push and act as supporting evidence for the Gnostic Movement. In other words, they were politically motivated.

    4) The theology of the Biblical gospels is firmly rooted and derived from the normative Judaism of First Century Israel.

    The theology of Gnosticism is firmly rooted in non-Jewish philosophies such as Greek Platonism and ancient Eastern Traditions. It bears little to no resemblance to the Judaism of Christ’s day.

    Finally, I would ask you Tobin to consider this summation from Philosophy Professor, Douglas Groothuis:

    “Although Pagels [author of “The Gnostic Gospels”] and others have provoked sympathy, if not enthusiasm, for the Gnostics as the underdogs who just happened to lose out to orthodoxy, the Gnostics’ historical credentials concerning Jesus are less than compelling. It may be romantic to “root for the underdog,” but the Gnostic underdogs show every sign of being heretical hangers-on who tried to harness Christian language for conceptions antithetical to early Christian teaching.

    Many sympathetic with Gnosticism make much of the notion that the Gnostic writings were suppressed by the early Christian church. But this assertion does not, in itself, provide support one way or the other for the truth or falsity of Gnostic doctrine. If truth is not a matter of majority vote, neither is it a matter of minority dissent. It may be true, as Pagels says, that “the winners write history,” but that doesn’t necessarily make them bad or dishonest historians. If so, we should hunt down Nazi historians to give us the real picture of Hitler’s Germany and relegate all opposing views to that of dogmatic apologists who just happened to be on the winning side.”
    (Douglas Groothuis, “The Gnostic Gospels: Are They Authentic?”; http://www.equip.org/articles/the-gnostic-gospels-are-they-authentic- ; retrieved date of post)

  47. FWAnson Reply

    – BUMP –

    Tobin (unregistered) wrote:
    “I know Dan Brown is a fictional author – that doesn’t make his citations fictional. The wikipedia, as I discussed with FWAnson, was to demonstrate this was a topic of legitimate discussion. This disproving the assertion that there is no evidence for this topic. After all, why spend any time discussing something in a scholarly way if there is NO evidence as asserted many times on here?”

    MY RESPONSE
    Tobin, who said that this wasn’t a topic of legitimate discussion? I didn’t. JB didn’t.
    And who said that there’s no evidence for this topic? I didn’t. JB didn’t.

    But as JB pointed out we could also produce also evidence for a Flat Earth (see http://www.alaska.net/~clund/e_djublonskopf/Flatearthsociety.htm ) , evidence for a Young Earth (see http://www.earthage.org/youngearthev/evidence_for_a_young_earth.htm ), and evidence for the Earth rotating around the Sun (http://www.fixedearth.com/ ) – but does that make any of it credible, does that make any of it true?

    Once again, it was you who made the following series of extraordinary claims:

    1) Jesus Christ was married.

    2) Mary Magdelene (a la Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code”) was Christ’s wife.

    3) This truth was suppressed by the Roman Catholic Church.

    4) The internal evidence of the Biblical Gospels is, therefore, nothing more than a cover up of the fact of #1 and #2.

    5) The truth about #1 and #2 can be found in the Gnostic Gospels – therefore, they should carry more weight than the Biblical Gospels.
    (presumable the gnostic “Gospel of Phillip” – which is the only one that you’ve mentioned)

    However, at first your failed to produce ANY evidence for your claims (preferring to launch into a litany of ad-hominem abusive arguments instead) and then you plagiarized heavily from Wikipedia as evidence.

    In the end you have failed to produce any CREDIBLE evidence or make CREDIBLE arguments to support your claims. And when cornered you would just launch into another set of ad-hominems abusives on JB or myself.

    Now at this point I consider this a closed matter: You made extraordinary claims and failed to back them with extraordinary evidence.

    Period, end of discussion.

    Further, your constant and continued use of ad-hominem has done nothing but discredit your stance and your scholarship.

    Never-the-less, I felt that this summary was probably in order given how long and how illegible the thread got to be at the end.

    Thanks.

  48. FWAnson Reply

    -BUMP-
    (this post was so indented that it was no longer possible to reply to it)

    JB (unregistered) wrote, in response to Tobin (unregistered):

    Tobin, perhaps you should re-read the discussion. You are the one who came in here making a variety of rather wild claims: “many” biblical scholars say that Jesus was married, the Roman Catholic Church edited the canonical Gospels to remove references to the marriage, the Roman Catholic Church tried to get rid of competing texts to suppress awareness of this marriage, the Roman Catholic Church tried to demonize Mary Magdalene as a prostitute from the get-go, etc., etc. You are, by definition, a conspiracy theorist. I came and asked you to substantiate your claims. I presented specific questions to you and specific reasons why many of your supposed ‘evidences’ were not strong enough. My primary contention in this debate has never been that Jesus was unmarried, but rather that it is very questionable whether “many” biblical scholars believe that he was married to Mary Magdalene – whom you continue, I notice, to erroneously conflate with Mary of Bethany.

    In response, you gave a list of alleged “biblical scholars” who all supposedly supported your view that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. You presented it as a body of genuine biblical scholars who hold that view. Upon investigation, it turned out to be nothing of the sort. It turned out to be a list of mostly non-scholars and a few scholars, and whom you simply assumed agreed with you, simply because they were referenced on the Wikipedia page for Mary Magdalene. But you represented them as a group of biblical scholars who all agreed with you. That was dishonest, and since you simply continued to evade and dodge from there, you ruined any chance of a civil, informative dialogue. You keep making references to sources and people that you obviously have never read. When asked to give actual citations so we can establish that they actually agree with you or support what you’re saying, you refuse. The reason is that you’ve never read them and so cannot provide that sort of data. But you haven’t been honest enough to own up to that. In comment after comment here, you cite things that you plainly have never read or attempted to verify. That is bad research, whether or not you admit it. You also continue to use very poor reasoning abilities, which you combine in a thoroughly distasteful way with continued mockery of everyone who disagrees with you as myopic ignoranti with our ‘heads in the sand’ and who blindly kowtow to the Roman Catholic Church. (Why you obsess so feverishly about Catholics is simply beyond my ability to guess, but I’m sure there are therapists for that.) And when you get refuted, you continue to evade the issue, claim the contrary, or just abandon that area of comments and repeat the same errors in response to us elsewhere. And that sort of behavior is why you get no respect from me; I do not respect those who do poor research, refuse to be corrected when caught, and who in fact engage in deceitful practices with invincible obstinacy.

    Now, you should have noted that in a recent comment, you cited a wide number of primary sources to back up one of your subsidiary claims. Whether or not that claim is right, I believe it is obvious that you just got those references from the Internet and did not bother to check them out. And that is why I have challenged you in my subsequent comment to actually go find those sources and establish your claims. It’s called research. And incidentally, while you were being lazy and just swiping references from the Internet, I already have tracked all of those down. Every one. Because I am committed to doing real research. If you realize that you don’t have the chops to do the same, then that’s fine, and you’re free to feign your righteous indignation and slink away. On the other hand, you could actually shape up and engage what we’re saying while repudiate your prior conduct, and then a productive discussion could perhaps begin.

    (And I also agree with Richard that these comment threads are very painful on the eyes. Shame Disqus keeps indenting them in this way.)

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