Update: Julie M. Smith provides a useful remedy for my troubles today, by adding some reason and perspective to the reactions to Sister Beck that dominated discussions today. Yeah for Julie.
Yeah for Keryn, too, who really, really captured the blessings that can come from catching the spirit of what Sister Beck said. Thanks, Keryn!!!!
I just jumped on to check into the pulse of things after Conference. I went from a spiritual high to feeling sick to my stomach. I am deeply disappointed in much of the discussion I saw. I was feeling some of that yesterday, as it seemed that people were just too quick to complain or criticize instead of just soak in the wonder that is Conference weekend.
I love the benefits of discussion. It's why I blog. I love interacting with people and sharing ideas back and forth. But sometimes I think people take things too far. The negativity I have seen today is bordering on shocking to me. I don't want to take away the way discussion can help people sort through thoughts, but there has to be a better way that can keep the spirit of what we heard alive. Much of what I read -- criticism, nitpicking, complaining -- took away from that spirit. It saddened me to hear the people I have grown to care about in the bloggernacle tear apart talks from some of the people I respect and sustain as my leaders.
Our leaders have expressed confidence in us. I'm particularly thinking of Sister Beck and the confidence she has expressed in us as women -- that we will be united, one voice, together behind what she taught as true and correct. I was amazed at how people would pick and choose what they liked and didn't like from last week's Relief Society broadcast (they are a united front, a united presidency -- do we really think that they don't support what the other says, that they haven't talked about what they were going to share?) And today, it's been even worse.
Our leaders aren't simply a bunch of individuals just out to push their individual agendas. I believe they speak as a united group. They spend weeks, if not months, seeking the Lord's guidance and seeking to find what HE would have them say.
I can't imagine that presenting their messages is easy; they speak to a worldwide audience whose individual lives vary in many ways. They only have a few minutes to try to cover deep and crucial topics. Are they perfect? They would be the first to admit that they are not.
And yet, our prophet recommended ALL of Conference to us for our review and pondering. He made no qualification of that recommendation. I am astounded at the level of negativity I have seen. I understand wanting to sort through ideas, but again, there has to be a better way than what I have seen today. Can't we do better?
If there is something we struggle with, something that didn't sit quite right, Elder Eyring gave us the key to what we could do (from the press conference). It was the counsel Pres. Faust gave him -- to go to God. Public criticism and fault-finding and negative hyper-analysis seems wholly inappropriate to me, and distracting from the amazing spirit that was present during this wonderful weekend.
I also think that if we struggle with something one person has said, almost surely someone else will have addressed our concern in another talk. The way I see it, their talks are interconnected, and part of a larger picture that no one person could capture in a 15-minute address. No one talk will be able to cover the vastness of the gospel message, nor of the many ways we could improve living it and enjoying its blessings. I think it is completely unfair to expect one person to say everything we want to hear, or to say something that applies to every single person all of the time, or to cover even all the bases that that person surely wants to cover. Try to imagine it!
I would have hoped for more testimony-building discussion. I leave my computer tonight stunned and disappointed. I will say thanks to those who did report and discuss in positive ways. I will try to read more of your words later. But for now, I am hurting that there could be as much discord and criticism as there was, and the (what feels to me) cavalier assumptions and discussions that somehow seem to imply that any of us could know better than our heaven-called leaders about what should have been said.
Addendum: I want to reiterate that I am not anti-discussion. I just think there are ways we can engage each other without being critical of our leaders and negative in our approach.