The other day I was having some software problems with my iPhone and had to restore it to its factory settings. The phone had been highly customized (as are most cell phones with contacts, photos, rings, etc.) which were all whisked away at the click of my mouse. For a moment my phone was back to its original earth photo, Apple ringtone and single page of apps. This was ideal because I was then able to customize again according to my particular needs.
Last week I participated in a thread over at FMH in which the post argued that bishops have no place asking women about the Law of Chastity. Naturally there was discussion about patriarchy’s dominance of female sexuality and dozens of examples of creepy/inappropriate bishops/stake presidents. I have no interest in re-hashing that discussion over here, but at one point it occurred to me that we were mostly speaking past each other because we have different church default settings. And by default setting I don’t mean testimony or universal truths, rather it is more a matter of the basic common ground upon which we are having a discussion. If we can wipe away our cultural bias and anecdotal evidence, or wipe our contact list, photos and ringtones, if you will, what is our default setting on a certain issue?
So here’s a for instance: in that thread I kept getting the feeling that most of the commenters defaulted on “bishops are suspect” whereas I default on “bishops are trustworthy.” Now, I’m not saying that that was the fulcrum of the argument (which I think was patriarchy and sexuality, which we likely have different default settings for as well…), but was nevertheless something that kept getting in the way of a productive discussion. Our default settings were at such odds to begin with that I had little hope of finding any common ground.
Some of my other default settings (off the top of my head) are:
- God exists and is the traditional god of Mormonism.
- Joseph Smith was always sincere and acting in good faith.
- Thomas S. Monson believes what he preaches.
- The FP and Q12 take members’ concerns very seriously.
- The organization of the LDS Church is a positive force for good.
- Most men respect and consider women their equals.
- We know basically nothing about our pre- and post-mortal lives.
- All members (including the prophet) are imperfect (and not in the “because he sometimes gets impatient” stupid imperfect, but we are really, really imperfect).
- Greg Olsen is the literal manifestation of evil.
Notice that these are not so much Truth claims as much as a starting point to how I approach various gospel issues. So I guess if you need a key as to why you disagree with me so vehemently, check this list and you’ll see that it is all because of your love of Greg Olsen.