Thursday, April 25, 2013

A short reposting today

In place of my normal Thursday post, I refer you to this one at Common Consent. Please go and read it. And then think of your own mother -- by name.

Like most of the commenters at BCC, I doubt the article in the Friend (go to page 24 of the .pdf version) had any malicious intent, but rather is symptomatic of a bigger problem: that no one saw a problem with an article about the mother of so many prophets that failed to name any one of those mothers.

I love the Friend and hope this oversight will not be repeated.

[Red-faced, I noticed the link to BCC was broken since I posted this last Thursday; my apologies.]


  1. If there was no malicious intent, and no harm to anyone, then why make such an ado? The article was for children, and was teaching the goodness of mothers. Most children do not know the names of their friends' mothers, but even so they sustain and love them as mothers. The purpose wasn't to teach history in an academically rigorous way. Editing an article is always hard, and decisions have to be made -- and where decisions have to be made, there will always be those who will second-guess the decisions and find fault.

    Count me among the ___, ___, and ___ (fill-in the blanks with perjoratives of your choice, mild or harsh) who don't see any problem in the article. If I'm teaching a lesson to children about being patient, and I use a story from real life saying that "his [or her] mother showed courage" without giving the mother's name or other biographical details, have I erred? No -- I have taught correct principles and comforted the child. But then, I'm ___, ___, and ___.

    [Yes, I am over-doing it -- but isn't everyone else?]

  2. ji, you ask a fair question -- Why make a big deal of it?

    And I thought long and hard about that question before reposting this issue to my blog. As I state in my profile, I do not speak for the church, but I will speak in favor of it. That is always my preference.

    I resposted this because I do believe what I said: no one intended to do harm, and yet the fact that an article can discuss the mothers of half a dozen prophets without naming the mothers IS an issue, if only because it is representative of our standard behavior as a Mormon culture.

    Those prophets' mothers are more than just the mother of prophets; they have names and there is certainly a way that particular piece could have been edited to include the names. There's nothing wrong with the children of the church knowing the names of the prophets' mothers.

    Having said that, I am a huge fan of the Friend. I don't have young children in my home anymore and yet I continue to subscribe. The fact that I love the magazine and all it accomplishes does not mean it can't be better. I believe this is one way in which it could be better.

    I would never use pejoratives to describe you, harsh or mild. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. I appreciate your response. For me, I must remember that this article is written for children, and children almost always think of "my mother" or "his" mother" or "her mother" as sufficient. A child will say, "My Mom asked me to give this to you." He or she won't say, "My Mom, Evelyn Smith nee Johnson, asked me to give this to you." If someone else's mother is pointed out or introduced, the child's mind will register only "mother" -- the child will be happy and won't ask about her name.

    So yes, the article maybe could be more politically correct and include the name of the prophet's mothers and make the BCC crowd happy (well, that might be impossible), but the children of the Church (the target of the article) are happy just knowing a story about someone else's mother. To a child, the title of "mother" is sufficient and complete. There is some beauty in that.

  4. I don't disagree that younger children do tend to think of "Mom" as a non-person, an extension of themselves. But that doesn't mean we can't teach them more. Eleven and twelve year old readers are certainly old enough to think beyond "my mom" and "your mom" and can be encouraged to do so. Furthermore, parents who read this article to their youngest children might be interested to know the names, too. (And it could so easily be done in a footnote.)

    As for the "BBC Crowd" designation, I guess I wouldn't try to paint everyone with such a broad brush.

  5. I just read your defense of the orange shirt -- I appreciate you thoughts there -- for some reason, reading it made we want to re-find this posting, and here I am...

  6. To check both sides of my personality perhaps? :-)

    I acknowledge that I'm a complex reader of the Friend.