Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Problem With Silence

First, I want to state my love and admiration for President Hinckley. Please take this in the spirit it is mentioned and intended. This is not a personal attack on him but the ideals he speaks of. It is through an interview he had with Larry King from which I base today’s post.

“Larry King: Are people ever thrown out of your church?

“Gordon B. Hinckley: Yes.

“Larry King: For?

“Gordon B. Hinckley: Doing what they shouldn’t do, preaching false doctrine, speaking out publicly. They can carry all the opinion they wish within their heads, so to speak, but if they begin to try to persuade others, then they may be called in to a disciplinary council. We don’t excommunicate many, but we do some. ” (emphasis added)

I’ve struggled with my faith for about four or five years now. It wasn’t until Prop 8 and this idea of keeping silent came to my attention when I felt compelled to express myself publicly. For the first time I found I did not agree with the church’s stance.

I remained quiet at first, keeping my opinions between my husband and myself, but to help me make the right decision I needed to talk about it. Under the weight of my dissenting opinion, I finally conversed with some online friends and later the few who read my new blog. Then I dared let some family know through either my writing or during conversation. While my husband warned me of the reactions likely to come, I was never prepared.

People online told me to rip up my recommend. One friend, someone who introduced me to the church and whom I’ve known for nearly a decade told me she no longer wished to read about what I thought, that she hoped I’d come to terms with my issues – but I wasn’t to talk about them. She’d have no part of that.

To say her response shocked me would be inadequate. It broke my heart: You feel I’m having issues and the best you can do is ignore it and tell me we can keep our conversation to husbands and children? (yes she said that)

Seriously?

My ex-roommate told me when the prophet speaks we don’t need to pray. Not if we sustain him as Prophet.

Another close friend of mine looked at me like I’d suddenly grown another head or perhaps a few horns atop the one I already have. My husband said his father regarded him in the same manner. They couldn’t or didn’t want to believe that we could have received a different answer than the prophets.

My friends and family who know avoid the topic now. It’s as if they hope my doubts will somehow magically disappear. Pretend they don’t exist. Ignore them and they will go away. She’s sneezing, you might catch cold.

These reactions only made my questions harder to ignore, all the more determined to be answered. I never looked to “go against the church.” I didn’t want to disagree with the prophet, I never had, but how do I deny that peace in my heart, even when it does go against the church? I know from experience you can ignore it, but it always comes back. Always.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said it’s never okay to criticize our leaders - even when the criticism is justified. I get the reasoning behind this. It’s not good to spend all your time criticizing anyone. You need to focus on the good, count your blessings, that sort of thing. But where do people go when they have doubts and questions, when they can’t reconcile certain things? Bishops and stake presidents, General Conference talks and Ensign articles would have us pour ourselves into the scriptures, in prayer, to get a blessing. To “have faith.” A former bishop responded to my tearful admission of a crumbling testimony by telling me to watch BYU-TV.

It seems to me that we as a church do not enjoy speaking of such things. In my experience we don’t talk about it and I have to ask: does this kind of willful ignorance help? Hardly.

Doubts and questions do not silence themselves. Scriptures and prayer don’t always give me peace I need, no matter how long or hard I try with the best of intentions. This is deeper than that. People seem to think it’s easy to question. I assure you it is petrifying.

We like to find rational explanations for our commandments. “We are told to tithe because it is a matter of sacrifice to the Lord, to help us pay for our temples and buildings. Look how it kept our church out of debt!” While a matter of faith, we are also driven by reason. Fair enough?

So what of times when I can find no rationale? You might say this is a time for blind faith – and I might agree, except I received answer contrary the First Presidency’s letter. Would you say I must heed the answers to my prayers, or would you insinuate the prophet had said my prayers for me too? Some may suggest pride, a hard heart, etc. no matter what I say. I think these reactions are made from fear as we’ve been told it cannot happen, that our answers will always reflect that of the Church and if they don’t, then we’re wrong.

I understand this sort of reaction if a person went out and told people the church was fundamentally and wholly false – but this isn’t about that. I don’t think a genuine search for truth, even unseemly truth, is a good basis from which to ex someone or even six someones such as with the September Six.

The idea that one could inadvertently learn things that don’t add up, discuss them, and then be told to stop, just stop or I’ll call you to the disciplinary council raises about a million red flags in my heart. It’s potentially faith shattering, worse than any embarrassing fact I could ever discover. And I wish it wasn’t.

We talk about the power in strong, unyielding testimonies, but I ask what is a testimony if it isn’t challenged? Will silencing otherwise faithful dissenters really do the church good? I know we fear modern day Korihors, but I don’t think that’s what we’re dealing with. We’re dealing with good, well-intentioned people who disagree in some instances, and discussion should not only be allowed but encouraged. If our souls find strength in opposition, then so should our testimonies. If the Church is true it will withstand the storms. Truth always prevails.

I would like to be able to discuss my doubts without fear of excommunication. Yes we get enough negative advertising, but for us to pretend the problems don’t exist or are all unfounded is foolish at best. It will come back to bite us, either on an individual or general level. I’m confident about that.



Also posted at Feminist Mormon Housewives.

20 comments:

Amanda said...

My thoughts are - if a church is claiming to be true, and completely true, then they shouldn't worry about what other people say. If it's a true church, and God has promised to keep it going on earth, then it doesn't matter who says what about it. Silencing members only breeds fear, sadness, and animosity, and to me, it is the mark of an organization with something to hide, thus negating trueness of the church.

The religions I respect the most are the ones that allow questioning. Not limited questioning where the answers are predetermined in advanced, but real, honest questioning.

A true church will withstand all questioning, and will be willing to admit its mistakes. That's my opinion.

Grégoire said...

Dear Sister Lisa,

You ask such interesting questions.

my article made her feel a darkness.

One thing you'll never understand is that we (by we I mean those of us who were born into this bizarro nationality) were taught to lie. We lie to ourselves most frequently. When we're confronted by the truth, we instinctively shut down.

Margaret Merrill Toscano was someone I met when I was a student in Salt Lake City, while this was going on. Her husband (I forget his name) was a convert, and I read his story of her excommunication and how different it seemed from his perspective.

You're disadvantaged but advantaged also, in that you have a frame of reference your friends lack. Try and understand if they're frightened by free-thought, and try and let them go if they can't handle honest questions. I'm proof that one can't necessarily purge himself of all his Mormonism, even if he tries for twenty years, and even if he were one of the few who was always skeptical, so I do feel their pain. They're not bad people. At the core, acknowledging your doubts forces them to admit that they were chumps, on some level, and that can be difficult.

Lisa said...

My thoughts exactly.

We talk about strong, unyielding testimonies, but I say they're not strong if they're not informed. They're not strong if anything that speaks against it makes you want to crumble inside or at least run to hide.

Something doesn't smell right about that.

Eric said...

Hi Lisa, thanks for pouring out your soul on this topic. I am certain that many of the concerns are shared by others and feel some of these same frustrations myself. I hope you will not take what I am about to say as dismissive of the authenticity and validity of your feelings. God is REALLY patient with all his children. He loves us and strives with us on whatever level we are able to come unto him. While the promise of open arms and light (here a little there a little until we come to a fullness) is extended to all, we are not permitted to rush the veil. Jesus spoke in complex metaphors to people seated before him for their saftey sake, because he knew they were not ready for the straight answer. Sometimes we don't know and are not permitted to know. At times like this one can become impatient and agitated and feel that they are without resource or even recourse. When I find myself in these moments I try to rember Peter's response to Christ. "To whom shall we go. Thou hast the words of eternal life."

I don't have the clarity of mind I would like at this time regarding church political action on Prop 8 and other concerns. That said I do know that I will not gain greater light and understanding by allowingy own impatience to canker my trust, sacrifice and love of the Lord. I guess what I really trying to say is that sometimes the greatest test is not a bold public action manfesting great faith, but a quiet and personal waiting on the Lord.

Please also remember that the Internet inall it's glory is an easy place to heat without light.

Hang in there and keep your lines of communication open to the Lord e.g prayer, study, communion with the saints, fasting temple worship, and more secret prayer.

BYU TV does stoke me a thin

Eric said...

Whoops! I guess that's what I get for using my phone to comment. Please pardon the auto correct typos. I meant to say that byu tv strikes me as a thin response.

the narrator said...

I really like your blog posts. The Church is still very young with very old leaders. It takes time to break with habits and traditions.

What I've come to learn is that tone is everything. (By 'learn' I mean I have come to recognize it, I am terrible at applying it). While many members may not be able to recognize it, I think that the Church leaders are coming to recognize it more and more.

I know when I am writing with my gloves on ready to attack, and I know when I'm writing with a humble spirit of peace. I just have to tell myself to focus on the latter even more.

I just finished writing an essay on Eugene England. He is someone who struggled with this issue quite a bit. I wish to say he found a happy medium, but I'm not sure that he did. Perhaps that is the curse and risk for those who want to speak up for what is right.

Maren said...

I haven't read any of the other responses yet, so I'm not sure where most of your readers are about this, but here are my thoughts:

I grea up in the church with the same expectations as your husband demonstrated...always say YES. For the past 5-8 years (especially in the past 5) I've come to realize that no matter what most steadfast members thing, I dont think all callings are inspired. So after a lifetime of saying YES and stressing out and suffering axiety over some situations, I've finally learned to say NO, or ask to be released.

I love my ward, and I love the people in it. Out here, in No Man's Land, Pennsylvania, it's much different than it was in Arizona. But, the 5 years we've lived here, I've suffered more loss of testimony that ANY other time. Most of it comes from the leadership in our ward. If I didn't have the Fear Of God (or the fear of being ex'ed) in me, I would no longer be attending church. But every week I go. Every week I serve faithfully in my calling. I don't speak out about certain issues in the ward (not necessarily personal issues) because of the RATTLE it would make and no one is comfortable with a RATTLER!!!! They like things to go the way they always have. Don't DARE try to change things or contest the effectiveness of such things.

So I keep silent. It's not comfortable and it doesn't help.

Lisa said...

It's good to know I'm not alone. It's a terribly lonely place to be.

Welcome, Eric. Thanks for your words.

One of my biggest things is ensuring my issues are doctrinal. The cultural stuff I can try my best to ignore (and if not ignore, confront), but the doctrines I find some issue with on a few levels. We'll see.

Kengo Biddles said...

"If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things." - Rene Descartes


Now, I'm not saying that you have to doubt everything all at once, and I don't know that's what Descartes is perpetuating.

But I see nothing wrong with questioning what the leaders are saying. I see nothing wrong with voting for a proposition, such as prop 8, if you were encouraged to do so by leaders of the church, and you had prayed about it and felt good about casting that vote.

If you're truly in tune, you'll feel the answer--even if it may be diametrically opposed to your gut reaction. If you're brave enough to follow through on it's the question.

I think of the quote from President Hinckley, and I take it in the context of preaching false-doctrine, like any twist on "deep" doctrines.

I think that you pointing out the flaws in the garbage e-mails that were floundered around the interwebs before the vote is wise.

We can't vote on truth if we don't know the truth.

Voting on fear got Germany Hitler. Do we want a "Hitler"?

Vote on fact, I say, even if that fact is as simple as, "The President of the church said to vote this way, and I sustain him as a prophet, so I will."

That's my thoughts.

Laura said...

Disclaimer: This one is very long so please don’t ban me from commenting on your blog in the future!

First off, I think it is important to understand why the examples you cited were excommunicated. It was not because they merely disagreed with church authority, but because they criticized official gospel doctrines, offering up their own versions of possible truths. These are not mere disagreements. They undermine some of the most basic fundamental truths of the gospel as we know it.

I believe that they used academic research NOT as a method to further their own spirituality and understanding (which is encouraged), but as a way to try and alter church doctrine to fit their own ideals. Is this not what Satan did? He no doubt knew the truth, but thought his way just made more sense. I’m not calling these folks Satanic, but the basic pattern is the same.

Tosacana, in particular assumes that J.S. somehow intended for women to perform priesthood ordinances. But her ideals are in direct opposition to latter-day revelation. How can one profess to be a true believer of the faith while aligning himself in direct opposition to what the prophets have taught? Even if her ideas held merit and J.S. actually did intend for this to be the case, she is looking for answers in the past and not the present. And isn’t that one of the most precious of all gospel truths, that we have a LIVING prophet for our day? That the Lord still speaks to his servants and provides guidance and counsel through them? The beauty of this church is that the words of a living prophet are more valuable to us than a dead prophet. So inevitably, there ARE inconsistencies. The church IS ever-changing, as the Lord reveals new insight to the prophet whom He has appointed for THIS specific time.

And yet, there are folks who continually dig up the past professing that J.S. meant this and not that, that we’re doing it this way when should be doing it that way. They claim to be true Latter-Day Saints and become offended when they are excommunicated, yet they deny one of the most basic beliefs of Mormonism – that the Lord will ALWAYS reveal his word through his servants. I cannot think of a time in the Bible or BOM when the Lord revealed His gospel to scholars through direct revelation. He almost always chooses the unlearned. If the church is to change any doctrine or belief, it will come through the prophet, not a scholar.

This is not to discount scholarly research. From what I can tell, the church welcomes research and has been on the forefront of investigating new scripture (i.e. Dead sea scrolls). But I wish to point out that research should in no way aim to refute or replace the testimony in your heart which you have received through faith. For example, Wright assumed in his article that the BOM was a collection of J.S.’s own compositions. Why should the church tolerate this claim when we have already received a testimony that it is from God? Claims like this cause dissensions among members within the church, they cause confusion, they mix personal beliefs with prophetic revelation – and there is simply no place for personal doctrine.

If there were, then to whose personal doctrine should we ascribe? There are scholars who believe the Bible is not a record from God, that it has no historical context, that Christ never existed. Are we to investigate this claim? Of course not because our faith has already affirmed that it is from the Lord. There are scholars who have studied the history of the BOM and assert that it is an impossible record, that the history does not add up. Are we to investigate this claim? No, because our faith has already affirmed that the BOM is true. Even if all the research in the world tells us that the Nephites never existed, that there is no founding for the BOM, I would still believe it because I cannot deny the testimony that I have received.

If one does not like the things that are being taught in the church, they have the freedom to leave – heck they can even start their own church where they can teach whatever they want. There are plenty of off-shoots from ours, and I’m sure a person could find one to fit their own ideals. The re-organized church even gives women the priesthood. The point is, when folks go around asserting alternate theories about the gospel plan, they should be excommunicated. They have decided to perpetuate ideas that are contrary to prophetic revelation. They have decided that they know more than the prophet so why would they want to remain a member of the church with which they disagree?

I understand you feel we need to expose all of the skeletons in our closet – to come clean about polygamy, blacks and the priesthood, etc. But what exactly do you expects the GA’s to say? “Oh yea we were wrong about all that stuff, we’re sorry, but don’t stop listening to all the other things we say.” Would that not lead members to believe that they no longer have to follow anything the prophet says if he is occasionally prone to false doctrine? Perhaps I no longer need to worry about the law of tithing because the prophet could have been incorrect on that one. Maybe I no longer need to worry about the WOW because J.S. may have made just another “mistake”.

It’s a slippery slope in both directions.

Steve M. said...

D&C 121 tells us that all men have a proclivity for abusing power. In light of that reality, it makes little sense to me that the Church does not do more to increase leadership accountability. If "unrighteous dominion" is such a danger, then why do we facilitate it?

In the Church, accountability generally only moves in one direction: upward. Each member in the hierarchy is held accountable to those above him, but not to those below him. Thus, while a bishop may have to answer to a stake president, the members of his own congregation are expected to defer to him in virtually every respect. The Church provides few channels for holding ecclesiastical superiors accountable. In fact, by restricting access to the Church Handbook of Instructions, the Church withholds from lay members knowledge of the very policies that their own leaders are to abide by.

Occasional sustaining votes (at ward, stake, and general conferences) are the closest formal mechanism we have for holding accountable those above us, but unfortunately these "votes" are mere formalities.

What many in the Church do not understand is that turning a blind eye to problems, cutting off channels of communication, and silencing dissenters are more likely to hurt the Church than analysis and criticism. Therefore, I am quite skeptical of the argument that voicing criticisms inhibits the effectiveness of our leaders, and therefore, the Church. Intolerance of questioning and dissent are unhealthy, both for the institutional church and its members.

As the Narrator pointed out, it's important to be careful about how we phrase our criticisms. If it just seems like we want to grind an ax, then whatever we say will probably fall on deaf ears.

But criticism is important. It's damn important.

Steve M. said...

Laura,

It was not because they merely disagreed with church authority, but because they criticized official gospel doctrines, offering up their own versions of possible truths.

The "freedom" to disagree means little if you are not permitted to give voice to those criticisms. For instance, China's Constitution protects the right to free speech, but how meaningful is that "freedom" if you criticizing those in power may land you in prison?

Further, what is so wrong with "offering up [one's] own version[] of possible truths"? This is not apostasy; people do this in Sunday School every week. What you seem to be getting at is one of the definitions of apostasy given in the CHI: "[T]eaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine" (emphasis added). I don't think that offering one's own interpretation of gospel principles is the same as teaching that interpretation as if it were the official stance of the Church.

How can one profess to be a true believer of the faith while aligning himself in direct opposition to what the prophets have taught?

Prophets make mistake. Further, prophets do not always agree. Throughout church history, various prophets and apostles have disagreed with one another--both publicly and privately--on a number of issues, including such fundamental questions as the nature of God.

But I wish to point out that research should in no way aim to refute or replace the testimony in your heart which you have received through faith.

Did the "apostates" in question "aim to refute or replace" members' testimonies? That's doubtful.

Shouldn't our faith be based on truth? And should we shy away from what may be truth simply because it conflicts with whatever preconceived notions we have?

There are scholars who believe the Bible is not a record from God, that it has no historical context, that Christ never existed. Are we to investigate this claim? Of course not because our faith has already affirmed that it is from the Lord. There are scholars who have studied the history of the BOM and assert that it is an impossible record, that the history does not add up. Are we to investigate this claim? No, because our faith has already affirmed that the BOM is true.

I'm just going to have to disagree with you on this one. What you are suggesting is that we should cover our ears and say "I can't hear you" when presented with information that might affect our pre-existing (and perhaps imperfect) beliefs.

Isn't it possible that, by helping us better understand the origins of our scriptural records, scholarship may enrich our understanding of these treasures and help ensure that our faith is grounded on truth?

If one does not like the things that are being taught in the church, they have the freedom to leave – heck they can even start their own church where they can teach whatever they want.

This attitude is destructive.

Let's draw an analogy. I may be wrong, but I'm going to go out on a limb and wager that you weren't particularly pleased with the results of the recent presidential election. If that is the case, then have you considered leaving America? I mean, there are plenty of other good countries. It wouldn't make sense to, I don't know, stick around and make your voice heard, right? Because we all know that the truly patriotic among us never disagree with their leaders or question the status quo. People like Martin Luther King, Jr., were just trouble rabble-rousers who should have left the country.

But what exactly do you expects the GA’s to say? “Oh yea we were wrong about all that stuff, we’re sorry, but don’t stop listening to all the other things we say.” Would that not lead members to believe that they no longer have to follow anything the prophet says if he is occasionally prone to false doctrine? Perhaps I no longer need to worry about the law of tithing because the prophet could have been incorrect on that one.

More destructive rhetoric. So once you rise to a certain level within the Church, you no longer have a responsibility to recognize your own shortcomings, because it might--gasp!--reveal to others that you're human? Come on!

Laura, I don't say this to many people, but I think I fundamentally disagree with just about everything you have written.

Laura said...

For the record, I was extremely pleased with the outcome of the election - else I would not have been drawn to Lisa's blog in the first place. I'm surprised at how how quick you are to assume you know one's politcal beliefs based on my comments here.

Alas - It seems we must agree to disagree.

Lisa said...

Kengo-

Thanks. Not many people agreed with my refuting the email, but I figure if you're going to vote, know what it is you're doing. I felt too much like these people were looking for a way to explain to their gay friends why they were doing what they were doing. The truth is there was little concrete support. Just say it's because the Prophet said so. If their faith is true, that should be enough.

It wasn't an easy vote for a lot of people (the yes side). They didn't know how to express love when their actions didn't follow. I knew a few torn people.

My problem comes when I have a peace with voting "against the church" and people look at me like two horns have just popped out of my head.

There's no reason for that. I don't have any problem with others voting their conscience, but I take issue when people question how I came to my own place. There are many who say "Oh, so God just told the Prophet and millions of other people to vote yes but is leaving an exception for just a few?"

The guilt is horrible (not to mention that whole quote is misleading and hyperbole). I can never convince some of the peace I found in my seemingly dissenting vote, but I'm done trying. My conscience is clear. I'd vote no again.

Sustaining a leader does not mean always agreeing with or following. That's frightening stuff.

And yes, I've received scary and very unwelcome personal revelation before and followed it despite myself. I'm not a stranger to this. I just did what I felt was right and received confirmation for. The looks I get from the few who know this...they don't believe me. I don't know that they ever will want to try. It's a foreign concept, I think.

Steve M. said...

Laura,

You have to admit that, 9 times out of 10, guessing that a Mormon is a conservative Republican will be a safe bet. At least we can see eye to eye when it comes to the election! :)

Lisa said...

I just found this in another blog of a woman who is going through much the same thing some of us are. She's a bit further along and has other issues to contend with. If interested, you can find her blog at Losing My Religion - Finding My Way

"I think the first huge brick to fall was when the Bishop called me in to tell me I couldn’t discuss my disagreement with an Apostle on my blog. I don’t know what floored me more… that my blog was being read by the Bishop and Stake President, or that I wasn’t allowed to disagree with an Apostle." (June 20, 2007 entry)

So what are we to do when we have issues? Keep it to ourselves? I'll tell you that doesn't work. Talk with our bishop? Not when we know the response. We should be able to talk about it.

The issue, I know, is that an investigator or someone who is struggling will find such things and use it as reason to not join/leave the church. Or they'll start questioning everything, and we can't have that.

But I don't think those are good enough reasons. Members should be able to question and be angry when warranted. No we shouldn't criticize 100% of the time. That doesn't get anything done. We should speak good too, but to make it a rule to ignore the bad stuff is unhealthy and really unrealistic.

BTW: Laura, I'm glad you found my blog. I'm glad you're coming back, and feel free to post long responses anytime. I don't mind that we disagree on things. I'm not here merely to preach to the choir, so to speak.

Steve: Thanks for backing me up. Sometimes it's nice to have some outside support - if only to let me know I'm not insane and nitpicking...and not alone.

Yay for Obama voters! :D

mfranti said...

oh lisa, excellent post!


email me

fmhmfranti at gmail dot com

nyn said...

Lisa,
No "you are not the only one".
When you said "I don't believe it's doctrine to say that the Church is perfect (but rather the gospel) - but so many members believe this and are taught this, so when they inadvertently find it is not, their whole world falls apart." I know that this has been me over the last year. Starting October of last year all of my questions and genuine concerns weren't being answered. I was doing all the "right" things too and still being pushed aside or told as you said in your next post "wickedness was never happiness", therefore my life must need some serious alteration.
I appreciate your thoughts and feelings on this and understand where you are coming from. It is good to have a place where you can express your concerns. I am grateful you do and that I can share this journey with someone. It can feel lonely at times.

Shar said...

I really enjoyed your post. There were many spots where I wondered how you knew exactly what I've been dealing with as well.

Prop 8 has been such a divisive issue in my family. Well...divisive between me and my faithful LDS family. I don't feel comfortable talking with my Bishop or anyone in the ward about my dissenting views—likely for the same reason you stated—because it is discouraged and looked down upon to question church leaders. I did try to discuss it with my father over the phone once and that was just about the biggest mistake of my life. Shortly thereafter, I was inundated with "explanations" from my family members who were calling and emailing me about why voting for Prop 8 was the correct thing to do. If I tried to discuss issues and challenge their arguments I would always end up hearing about how I should just follow the prophet and everything would work out fine. I find blind obedience very scary.

Having someone who is willing to listen and not judge you because of your doubts and disagreements is difficult to find, but it is so needed because discussion can be so cathartic.

So- Thank you for your post. Thank you for your blog. Thank you for giving me someplace to go where I can try to make some sense of it all and not feel like I am the only one going to Hell for feeling this way. :)

derekstaff said...

Lisa, I agree wholeheartedly that a truly mature organization cannot stifle honest exploration, nor should it gloss over mistakes and criticism. A mature organization acknowledges mistakes and welcomes critical investigation. Truth will out: if the doctrine is sound, we can stand honesty about the details or missteps. All too often we think that by stifling any questions we are protecting people. But such protection does nothing to strengthen us. Rather it weakens us. If people are confronted with evidence that they have been lied to, they are much more likely to be resentful than if they had seen the possibly ugly truth in the first place. Yes, the ugly truth might shake some people, but it will ultimately strengthen them to have had to reconcile those truths. For example, if the priesthood ban was not inspired but rather the result of the bigotry of early Church leaders (which I believe to be the case), the Church should stop temporizing and rationalizing. Just admit that the Church screwed up. We don't have to pretend that the Church is completely infallible to maintain our testimonies and live righteously. We don't have to deny the human frailties of even the most wonderful people who have lead the Church. We can forgive the errors of the Church if they are honest about them; if the Church remains determined to rigidly control the message, it becomes much more difficult.