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See the Band Wagon. See Ardis Jump on the Band Wagon.

By: Ardis E. Parshall - October 31, 2013

I Am a Conservative Mormon

I don’t think it is possible for a historian to avoid a wide conservative streak, even if he or she wanted to avoid it. The very nature of being a historian means I want to know the past, remember the past, learn from the past, hang on to the best elements of the past.

I love my Mormon heritage. I love the pre-Mormon heritage of every one of my ancestors.

I am slow to adopt new theology, new explanations. I need time to think about new ideas, pray about them, understand how they fit into my understanding of the Gospel.

I think that work is ennobling and that the dole is spiritually impoverishing, and that as long as I can’t take care of everyone, I need to be a wise steward over the means I have.

I believe in following the counsel of prophets, although I am not always wise enough to understand or obedient enough to follow.

I believe in seeking learning, by study and also by faith.

As a teacher in Church auxiliaries, I believe in using the manuals: The purpose of my lesson is always the purpose stated in the manual (although I have, on occasion, sharpened the focus of a broad general purpose statement).

I sometimes catch myself in false modesty; when I do, I try to correct the faults covered by that false modesty. Doing so completely is going to take my lifetime, and beyond.

I judge too many people for not being as religiously conservative as I am. I’m sorry. We’ve had different experiences leading to different understandings, but I think most of us are generally doing the best we can with the best of motives.

I am not lazy, and the spirit tells me that I am not playing into Satan’s hands by being a conservative Mormon.

I Am a Liberal Mormon

I don’t think it is possible for a historian to avoid a wide liberal streak, even if he or she wanted to avoid it. The very nature of being a historian means I want to know the past, remember the past, learn from the past, and avoid the mistakes of the past.

I love my Mormon heritage. I love the pre-Mormon heritage of every one of my ancestors.

I am quick to adopt new revelation. I instantly knew the 1978 priesthood revelation was from God, despite hearing it from the most unofficial of sources, and before I understood how it would affect my understanding of the Gospel.

I think the first questions to ask are, “Are you hungry? May I help?” and that “Are you worthy of help?” trails far behind.

I believe in being anxiously engaged, in doing many things of my own free will, and bringing to pass much righteousness, although I am not always wise enough to avoid the unintended consequences of my well-intentioned but imperfect activity.

I believe in seeking learning, by study and also by faith.

As a teacher in Church auxiliaries, I believe in using my talents – a command of every setting-apart I’ve ever received – to engage the class and affect their lives. I am not a slave to the manual; I often tell better stories and always ask better questions than are found in the manual.

I sometimes catch myself in false pride; when I do, I try to correct the faults exposed by that pride. Doing so completely is going to take my lifetime, and beyond.

I judge too many people for not being as religiously liberal as I am. I’m sorry. We’ve had different experiences leading to different understandings, but I think most of us are generally doing the best we can with the best of motives.

I am not lazy, and the spirit tells me that I am not playing into Satan’s hands by being a liberal Mormon.



29 Comments »

  1. This is beautiful and very needed at this time, Ardis. Thank you.

    Comment by Samuel — October 31, 2013 @ 7:07 pm

  2. Thanks, Ardis.

    Comment by Christopher — October 31, 2013 @ 7:35 pm

  3. I needed this today!

    Comment by Margaret — October 31, 2013 @ 7:46 pm

  4. Perfect! You seem to always intuit what needs to be said to defuse a situation and build bridges.

    Comment by Bonnie . — October 31, 2013 @ 8:17 pm

  5. You are kin to me, Ardis.

    Comment by J. Stapley — October 31, 2013 @ 8:54 pm

  6. Couldn’t make up your mind? Still, well said. All things are, after all, a compound in one.

    Comment by kevinf — October 31, 2013 @ 8:58 pm

  7. Ardis, this is great. Pigeonholes are for the birds!

    Comment by Gary Bergera — October 31, 2013 @ 9:12 pm

  8. You seem to be implying that the study of history makes one thoughtful and open minded. Gosh! Maybe everybody should study it! You think?

    Comment by LauraN — October 31, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

  9. Ardis, I love that you are brave enough and sincere enough to bare your soul as you often have to those of us on Keepa. I appreciate your understanding of these traits in yourself and others, even though others may not be as accepting of the traits in you. You give us opportunities to examine our own lives to see where we fit in the grand scheme of things.

    Comment by Maurine — October 31, 2013 @ 11:41 pm

  10. How is it that a blog post that is dry, acerbic, and even a little tart, can be, at the same time, sweet and comforting? And subtle, but so clear.

    I was dismayed and a bit injured by my online reading today, but I got over it quickly because my chores aren’t going to do themselves; no time to nurse a sore spot. I really appreciate the balm you applied to the owie on my psyche. Thank you.

    Comment by MDearest — November 1, 2013 @ 12:25 am

  11. Just an “outsiders” view on this whole issue: ask most members outside the US what the terms “conservative Mormon” and “liberal Mormon” mean- and they won’t have a clue what you are talking about. They’ve got a big enough struggle on their hands just trying to be “Mormon” with too few members for too many callings (my personal record was 5 at once including 3 stake callings and two ward callings including Gospel Doctrine every Sunday: but VT was on top of those, and that’s not unusual, I’ve known others with more than that, and I list it not to boast but to highight a situation). They travel hours and hours to the temple to stay overnight in an accommodation centre (if they are fortunate enough to have one) to undertake maybe two sessions before the stake bus leaves and they have to go home again. They ferry the youth all around the country, driving hundreds of miles to give them the chance to mix with other like-minded souls that they wouldn’t have otherwise.And whether their outlook is conservative or liberal (no-one knows, because they don’t have the time to think about it) is utterly irrelevant.
    It appears, from outside, that the Church in Utah is a curious entity.
    That said, posts like yours provide hope, Ardis. Thank you.

    Comment by anne (uk) — November 1, 2013 @ 1:07 am

  12. I admire you so much for your keen ability to be logical and sentimental and comforting. Thanks for jumping on the band wagon(s).

    Comment by Michelle Glauser — November 1, 2013 @ 4:18 am

  13. We teach children learning grammar that they need to learn the rules before they can break the rules. The poet e. e. cummings wasn’t ignorant of the rules of capitalization — he knew the rules perfectly. I don’t like to think of rules in the context of conservative and liberal U. S. Mormons, but we all need to understand basic principles (dare we call it the unwritten order of things?) and we all need to do the work the Lord Jesus Christ wants us to do, rather than the work we ourselves want to do.

    It isn’t a big deal when e. e. cummings makes a capitalization “mistake” — it is a big deal when a sixth-grader makes the same mistake and stubbornly refuses to take instruction from his or her teachers. A double standard? No.

    Comment by ji — November 1, 2013 @ 4:22 am

  14. I guess “the site that shall not be named” has taken down the post with an apology.

    Comment by queuno — November 1, 2013 @ 8:30 am

  15. So, if you’re both conservative and liberal, doesn’t that make you . . . (horrors!) a moderate?

    Comment by Grant — November 1, 2013 @ 8:31 am

  16. The Lord told the Laodicians that he preferred they be hot OR cold, and not lukewarm. You’ve outdone even that command by being hot AND cold.

    Comment by Rameumptom — November 1, 2013 @ 8:42 am

  17. Very well done, Ardis.

    Comment by Mark Brown — November 1, 2013 @ 8:58 am

  18. In the bipolar world in which we live, moderation requires passion to maintain itself. There’s nothing lukewarm about that.

    Comment by Grant — November 1, 2013 @ 9:14 am

  19. In all the wonderful crazy that was yesterday I missed the post that prompted this, that said it is wonderful on it’s own, thank you for writing it. Now I need to do a little sleuthing and see if I can find a cached copy of the discordant anti muse post that “inspired” it.

    Comment by Dovie — November 1, 2013 @ 9:19 am

  20. Well said, Ardis.

    Comment by Steve — November 1, 2013 @ 9:41 am

  21. You didn’t miss a thing, Dovie. Just re-read Ardis’s post, and be happy that you didn’t see the horrid piece that prompted it.

    As to the apology that queuno mentions–I haven’t seen it. There are still two links on the home page to the post that has been removed, and those links lead to an error message. But no apology.

    Comment by Mark B. — November 1, 2013 @ 10:14 am

  22. […] and/or other-condemning posts out there on the topic (I won’t link to them, though.  Well, I’ll link to this one, which is the only good one I’ve seen so […]

    Pingback by Conservative/Liberal Mormons | The Millennial Star — November 1, 2013 @ 10:52 am

  23. Slam dunk, Sister Parshall.

    Comment by Marvin Payne — November 1, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

  24. That was beautifully written and profound, both wise and witty. Thank you.

    Comment by Braden — November 1, 2013 @ 7:13 pm

  25. Thank you Ardis! You always remind me to look for the good, especially when it is hard to find!

    Comment by Juliathepoet — November 2, 2013 @ 4:50 am

  26. This is why I prefer the terms “Liahona” and “Iron Rod”. They carry far fewer connotaions – and when my sister was six she figured out that you’re supposed to be both depending on the circumstances. My father’s eventual response to my sister was, “If we aren’t both, something is wrong.”

    Too often I feel like a Liahona among Iron Rods, or an Iron Rod among Liahonas. But I’m not about to paint a broad brush of either “group” or criticize someone for being too much of one or the other. (I reserve the right to disagree with a particular position someone takes, with the understanding that we just might see things differently.)

    Comment by John Taber — November 2, 2013 @ 7:56 pm

  27. After being away for a few weeks, I return to Keepa to catch up on what I’ve missed and this was the first post that caught my eye and my perusal. Don’t know the reason prompting the post, and, based on some of the prior comments; it appears I’m better off not knowing. But as I read, I was reminded of something my dad told me about how perception fuels people’s definition of “conservative” and “liberal” just as much as any real or perceived differences. He told me when we lived in California, he was considered a right-wing conservative, but when we moved to Utah, he suddenly became a left-wing liberal. Nothing in him or his views had changed, just location. From the time in the late 70’s when he told me that story until now, I’ve seen these words change from labels to near epithets. It’s too easy to label people, judge them based on that label, and pat ourselves on the back for our cleverness (and believe me, I’ve been there and I think I’m safe to say there’s only One who hasn’t). Yet, as Ardis has so wonderfully pointed out, we all can be lumped on one side or the other at times, sometimes both at once. I am thankful for the Spirit who helps me navigate this duality in myself and use it for good (at least when I have the wherewithal to listen). Thank you, Ardis, for the reminder.

    Comment by Chris M. — November 3, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

  28. Appreciate what you said Sister Parshall. Just wondering if the Parshall line comes through Israel Parshall or James Parshall line.

    Comment by Jim Terry — November 13, 2014 @ 4:19 pm

  29. My line goes through three Israels before it reaches James, the immigrant. I recognize the Terry name as one closely allied with the Parshalls, although I have no Terry ancestry myself.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 13, 2014 @ 4:27 pm

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