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WORD!


Mordecai

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As is made evident by debates over "gay marriage," it's clear that for Mormons, words are important. As they should be. After all, we must learn doctrine and know God to have salvation, and how do we do that other than by communication? Jesus Himself is even referred to as The Word. We've been consistently encouraged to speak in certain ways, elevating our language and told that the tongue can be as a sword, a powerful weapon.

Years ago, in seminary, we were told by one of our local leaders to not use the word stud, because of what a literal stud is, a horse that is used for breeding. Of course, that was the only time I was ever told to not use that word, but that doesn't mean the guy was wrong. Perhaps it's not the best word for Mormons to use. I'm not going to make an argument for that, personally, but I think I see the guy's point.

But perhaps there are other words that LDS people ought to be careful of that we haven't considered so much, that would introduce or reinforce falsehoods. One example of this might be calling someone "a good guy." Jesus Himself says, "Only God is good." What we really mean is, "He is a nice person and/or did something good." Perhaps we might benefit from being more conservative with the usage of the term. What we call good, clearly, is of paramount importance in what doctrines we espouse in our communication.

I've been thinking about what has nearly become a synonym for good, the word cool. Seemingly a paradox, while cool basically means good in our society, there are things that Mormons consider profoundly good that are apparently the opposite of cool. For example, getting married and having children is so traditional, it is anything but cool, since cool implies that it's trendy, does it not? What else is not cool? Feeling the Spirit is not cool. It has never been cool. In fact, we describe it as being warm, the exact opposite! A modestly and humbly dressed person does not have cool outfit, do they?

My intuition tells me that perhaps it's not a good idea to use the word loosely, because it seems like we're subtly implying, when we call something truly awesome and profoundly good, "cool" that we do not believe that the Spirit, getting married nor modest and humble attire are awesome nor good. Was Jesus, during his mortal ministry cool? He didn't dress cool, didn't have a cool job, wasn't terribly likable, or cool to a large segment of society and didn't say cool things to everyone. He often made people feel warm inside, so the things He was saying were the opposite of cool.

Is this a word we might try to be careful with, when we describe profoundly good things as cool? Do we encourage aloofness, trendiness and likability over being genuine, traditional and humble? I am leaning toward being careful about how I use the word, seeing as words have a powerful effect on how people think and feel. I don't know that the word cool as as "cool" as I once thought.

Feel free to strongly disagree, seeing as I have been debating with myself for some time on this!

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I believe if you are not careful you could wind up straining at gnats. Don't get so caught up on the words when the meaning behind the word is what is important and what you really ought to be more concerned with. Was Jesus cool? When I think of "cool", I think of someone who says or does something I am impressed with and would like to emulate. I think that's what it means to most people. So in that sense I think Jesus as described in the four Gospels is usually pretty cool. Occasionally, though, he seems a bit of a [edit].

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I believe if you are not careful you could wind up straining at gnats.

Yeah, I considered not posting this at all, despite having been thinking about this for a while. In the end, I decided that I hate the idea of promoting worldly values so much, I figure I would just come out and make the argument.

Don't get so caught up on the words when the meaning behind the word is what is important and what you really ought to be more concerned with.

No, what I mean is not what's important. Words are used to help others understand what you mean.

...Occasionally, though, he seems a bit of a racist prick...

Wait... WHAT???

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I think you should change it to "Kewl". That takes some of the righteousness out of it.

lol Yeah, I really liked the word. Kewl seems like a fine alternate spelling.

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In the end, I decided that I hate the idea of promoting worldly values...
Okay, I think I understand what you mean there in which case it matters as much what the words mean to others, not the words themselves. Nevertheless, it seems to me that more important than not promoting "worldly values" would be promoting "spiritual ideals and values". The key is to make such ideals and values popular. One thing some people seem to think is a "spiritual value" which I believe is merely playing to an individual's pride is supposing that always behaving in a pious, somber, or reverent manner at all times and places about everything is a virtue. I believe behavior such as piety, somberness, and reverence have a time and place based on the situation, and over doing it minimizes their meaning and only serves to inflate the prideful ego.
Wait... WHAT???

Jesus' attitude towards the Cannanite woman with the sick daughter is the most prominent example.

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Don't get so caught up on the words when the meaning behind the word is what is important and what you really ought to be more concerned with.

If one is to communicate effectivly one must get caught up in the words. Words have meaning and if you dilute that meaning then communication with others becomes labored and imprecise. Part of our current societal problems are because too many are obfuscating with their words.

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...Jesus' attitude towards the Cannanite woman with the sick daughter is the most prominent example...

That's one way to interpret that, but if you take all of his behaviors/words toward people of other ethnicities, He doesn't come across as a racist at all. If the scriptures are to be believed, He knew people's thoughts. His attitude toward the Canaanite woman, if He was who the scriptures claimed to be, was based more on her attitude and lack of understanding of the mission of Jesus being one of preaching to the Jews than on her ethnicity.

That's the only situation that you can rationally interpret as racist, really, but to you, Jesus is a "racist prick?" Considering His teachings, it's quite obvious He was very enlightened and hardly comes across like the type that would be racist. Do you think He was secretly thinking racist thoughts and preaching racist things that are left out of the Bible?

Lastly, how could anyone in their right mind call someone who spent His life fighting oppression and preaching love, ultimately dying for His cause, a "prick?" WHAT are you thinking? If you had half of His courage and did half the good we read about, you still would come across as sickeningly judgmental and arrogant saying such a thing about Jesus.

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That's one way to interpret that, but if you take all of his behaviors/words toward people of other ethnicities, He doesn't come across as a racist at all. If the scriptures are to be believed, He knew people's thoughts. His attitude toward the Canaanite woman, if He was who the scriptures claimed to be, was based more on her attitude and lack of understanding of the mission of Jesus being one of preaching to the Jews than on her ethnicity.

Maybe it's just me but I simply found Jesus referring to her as a dog a bit racist (and sorry, i was going off of memory, the woman was a Syro-Phonecian).

Do you think He was secretly thinking racist thoughts and preaching racist things that are left out of the Bible?
There isn't enough written about Jesus to come to a certain conclusion one way or the other about it. However, don't you think it racist to teach that one "race" of people is the "master" race and the rest of the people of the world are as "dogs" to them? Had it been anyone else, wouldn't you have thought that the person was being racist?
Lastly, how could anyone in their right mind call someone who spent His life fighting oppression and preaching love, ultimately dying for His cause, a "prick?" WHAT are you thinking? If you had half of His courage and did half the good we read about, you still would come across as sickeningly judgmental and arrogant saying such a thing about Jesus.

So if I said Gandhi came across as a bit of a [edit] over his racist attitudes towards the Blacks of South Africa, you would be calling me sickeningly judgmental and arrogant?

Review the board guidelines. Such language does not show respect for what many people hold sacred here.

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Maybe it's just me but I simply found Jesus referring to her as a dog a bit racist (and sorry, i was going off of memory, the woman was a Syro-Phonecian).

At what point did He say it was due to ethnicity? He refers to the Israelites as "children," as they are children of God. Other nations were engaging in rampant sexual transgressions and human sacrifice. We don't know who this woman was, nor why Jesus would say something like that. However, all Christians are required to see themselves as "lower than the dust," so it's hardly more insulting to call her a dog than it is to say that we are lower than the dust. I don't see this as good evidence of racism but of favoritism. That favoritism is due to Abraham's behavior, and the Israelites history of worshiping God through obedience, rejecting the idolatry, child sacrifice, the religious sexual rites amounting essentially to "holy" prostitution, etc. Do you say nice things about monstrous peoples, just to avoid sounding racist?

...However, don't you think it racist to teach that one "race" of people is the "master" race...

This is just trolling. Reported. Using the term "racist prick" to describe Jesus was trollish, too, but now you're reported.

So if I said Gandhi came across as a bit of a [edit] over his racist attitudes towards the Blacks of South Africa, you would be calling me sickeningly judgmental and arrogant?

YES. Obviously.

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At what point did He say it was due to ethnicity?
I don't see anywhere that he did. However, the context of the interaction suggests that it had to do with her not being an Israelite as you already admit. Then you go on to suggest the possibility, without anything to go on other than the fact that she wasn't an Israelite, that she may have been a participant in some form of sexual transgression or human sacrifice.
However, all Christians are required to see themselves as "lower than the dust," so it's hardly more insulting to call her a dog than it is to say that we are lower than the dust.
I'm not sure where you get that idea. Christians are not required to see themselves as "less than the dust of the earth." Christians are supposed to view themselves as sinners, unworthy of the grace God bestows upon them for having faith in Jesus Christ to redeem them from the penalty of the Law. While Abraham in his humility when pleading before God for the inhabitants of Sodom referred to himself as nothing but ashes and dust, he was referring to his own ephemeral existence compared to the eternal existence of God; yet elsewhere in Psalms, it states that Man is made a little lower than the angels and in Genesis it states that Man is made from the dust of the Earth in the image and likeness of God. Nevertheless, how supplicants might behave before God is still not reason for Jesus to go calling a non-Israelite woman pleading on behalf of her child a dog. It simply seems altogether out of character for someone who is supposed to be the earthly embodiment of the epitome of love and compassion. It's one thing to be self-effacing, it's another thing altogether for someone to demean and degrade you.
I don't see this as good evidence of racism but of favoritism. That favoritism is due to Abraham's behavior, and the Israelites history of worshiping God through obedience, rejecting the idolatry, child sacrifice, the religious sexual rites amounting essentially to "holy" prostitution, etc. Do you say nice things about monstrous peoples, just to avoid sounding racist?
Again, you are impugning the character of this woman you admit we know nothing about based solely on the fact that she is a non-Israelite. How is that not racism? How is favoritism of a specific race not racism? As for the Israelites history of worshipping God, they too were hardly free from the practices of idolatry, religious sexual rites, etc. Furthermore, we're not talking about saying nice things about monstrous practices or evil or wicked people. We're talking about someone who is supposed to be a nice person saying insulting, degrading, and derogatory things about another person.
You don't call people who have done such good in their lives "pricks." That's incredibly arrogant. Everyone has faults, and since you certainly aren't even close to a shadow of the man Ghandi was, yes, you'd be arrogant.
So are you finding fault with Jesus' treatment of the woman or are you agreeing with it?
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...Then you go on to suggest the possibility, without anything to go on other than the fact that she wasn't an Israelite, that she may have been a participant in some form of sexual transgression or human sacrifice.

Whether it's her personally or her people, it's a logical inference for Jesus to make. Furthermore, as I pointed out, Jesus was able to know people's thoughts. Since that is the case, I think He's perfectly justified in using an unflattering metaphor to describe her cultural heritage.

I'm not sure where you get that idea.

The BoMormon.

...While Abraham in his humility when pleading before God for the inhabitants of Sodom referred to himself as nothing but ashes and dust, he was referring to his own ephemeral existence compared to the eternal existence of God...

Does it make a difference? The idea is humility. Describing her as a "little dog," which isn't the same in their culture as it is in ours, is higher than dirt and lower than children. It doesn't sound horrible to me. Jesus went about doing the work of His Father, as he repeatedly pointed out. His calling was to minister to the Jews and to no one else. No one else had worshiped the way the Jews had, accepting the teachings of a benevolent God that promoted equality, hospitality, compassion and justice as opposed to human sacrifice, man/boy love and "holy" prostitution.

...it's another thing altogether for someone to demean and degrade you...

That's not how I interpret it, and she didn't seem too offended. She responded with humility, which is apparently what Jesus was looking for.

Again, you are impugning the character of this woman you admit we know nothing about based solely on the fact that she is a non-Israelite.

Pretty much. You ought to study ancient history, and the madness and barbarism of their cultures, by our standards. The Jews were at least taught to be much more civilized and had those teachings as a foundation on which Jesus could build.

How is that not racism?

It's history. That's how.

How is favoritism of a specific race not racism?

I disagree that the Jews represented a different race. They were/are of a different lineage and culture.

We're talking about someone who is supposed to be a nice person saying insulting, degrading, and derogatory things about another person.

Again, she seemed okay with it. I think you should get over it, too. Saying Jesus believed in a "master race," suggests you want to compare Him to Nazis. Wow. Yet, He heals the woman's daughter. Yeah, that's what Nazis do.

So are you finding fault with Jesus' treatment of the woman or are you agreeing with it?

If I'm required to accept that I'm an "unworthy creature," as King Benjamin puts it, and my feelings aren't even a little hurt, I don't see why Jesus can't compare her to a little dog. It's not like everyone hates dogs, and they have no value. His message was not that He hated her, but that He had higher priorities.

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Whether it's her personally or her people, it's a logical inference for Jesus to make. Furthermore, as I pointed out, Jesus was able to know people's thoughts. Since that is the case, I think He's perfectly justified in using an unflattering metaphor to describe her cultural heritage.

So Jesus gets a pass whereas the rest of us don't. No double-standard there.
The Book of Mormon.
You said every Christian. I suppose that makes sense from your Mormon-centric viewpoint.
Does it make a difference? The idea is humility. Describing her as a "little dog," which isn't the same in their culture as it is in ours, is higher than dirt and lower than children. It doesn't sound horrible to me.
Again, it's a matter of self-effacing humility versus insulting and degrading someone into being humble. You give Jesus a free pass to be insulting and degrading, but I wonder if you would give anyone else the same free pass. Are you seriously suggesting that Jesus was being kind and loving in his degrading comments towards her? It certainly doesn't come across that way. Rather, it sounded like he was insulting and degrading her the way I have heard racists insult and degrade the targets of their racism.
Jesus went about doing the work of His Father, as he repeatedly pointed out. His calling was to minister to the Jews and to no one else. No one else had worshiped the way the Jews had, accepting the teachings of a benevolent God that promoted equality, hospitality, compassion and justice as opposed to human sacrifice, man/boy love and "holy" prostitution.
The God of Israel certainly has a rather odd sense of equality, compassion, and justice. Were they really better than their neighbors? Israel engaged in all kinds of idolatry, sexual immorality, and apparently even human sacrifice (else why the prohibitions against it?). The best one can truly say is that Israel is alleged to have been "favored" by God. Of course, the Muslims claim the same about the Muslims, and the various other worshippers of various Gods likewise claim the same story. When they are righteous according to the standards of their religion, God is said to bless them or try them. When they are wicked, God is said to either be patient or lenient lest they repent or until they are fully wicked or God's patience is tried, or God smites and rebukes them for their wickedness.
...she didn't seem too offended. She responded with humility, which is apparently what Jesus was looking for.
She couldn't afford to be offended. Apparently Jesus was the only one who could have helped her. If you were in a horrible predicament and the only person who could help you treated you as a gross inferior due to your ethnicity, could you afford the risk of calling them on their prejudiced behavior, or would you do as Syro-Phoenecian woman and grovel further? And could we assume by your groveling that it didn't bother you being treated as sub-human because of your ethnicity?
Pretty much. You ought to study ancient history, and the madness and barbarism of their cultures, by our standards. The Jews were at least taught to be much more civilized and had those teachings as a foundation on which Jesus could build.
Something tells me Jesus could have taught people from any of these cultures. Your continued elevation of the Israelites over their neighbors suggests that you have bought into the racist propaganda in the Bible yourself.
It's history. That's how.
By that same logic, the historical favoritism in the U.S. of Western Europeans over Eastern Europeans, and Europeans over Asians and Asians over Blacks is not racism either, it's just "history".
I disagree that the Jews represented a different race. They were/are of a different lineage and culture.
Fine, a minor technicality which does not excuse the fact that the prejudice was altogether the same.
Again, she seemed okay with it. I think you should get over it, too.
As I stated before, she couldn't afford to complain. Who else could help her?
Saying Jesus believed in a "master race," suggests you want to compare Him to Nazis. Wow. Yet, He heals the woman's daughter. Yeah, that's what Nazis do.
Again, it appears you're either not familiar with what the Bible teaches about the Children of Israel, or you're supposing that if the group of people on top (whether distinguished by "race", ethnicity, skin color, religion, etc.) isn't throwing those they consider their inferiors into the gas chambers or ovens that they don't consider themselves to be the divinely ordained rulers or masters over the rest of the world.
If I'm required to accept that I'm an "unworthy creature," as King Benjamin puts it, and my feelings aren't even a little hurt, I don't see why Jesus can't compare her to a little dog. It's not like everyone hates dogs, and they have no value. His message was not that He hated her, but that He had higher priorities.
Allow me to make my own parable for you:

The Pope is visiting a country that has recently been ravaged by a natural disaster dispensing words of encouragement and comfort and spiritual guidance to Catholics. As he is touring the country, a woman who is obviously Muslim continually tries to approach him. Finally she is able to reach his undivided attention and she asks for relief supplies to help her sick child. The Pope responds that it isn't right for him to throw to the swine what belongs to God's children.

Would you not consider the Pope's words unnecessarily harsh, cruel, or demeaning? Especially if he knew, as you assert Jesus probably knew, the woman was only seeking for help for her sick child? Would you not at the very least think, wow, couldn't he have put it a different way like, "I'm sorry but I must take care of my own flock before I take care of the wild sheep or those that belong to another?"

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The God of Israel certainly has a rather odd sense of equality, compassion, and justice.

Jesus himself said that he was sent to the lost sheep of Israel, and that is because of covenant. As you point out Israel had a lot of problems, hence his statement "Let the children first be filled." He wasn't calling the woman a dog but using a metaphor to emphasize where his priority lay. It would be for his Apostles to take the gospel to the Gentiles. Note however, that this woman's faith was so great that he told her that her daughter was healed because of that. That wasn't the action of someone who had no compassion.

This demonstrates how some will find offense in words and context they don't understand.

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We've been consistently encouraged to speak in certain ways, elevating our language and told that the tongue can be as a sword, a powerful weapon.

Maybe it's because I'm old fashioned but I have a problem with using words like "cool" to refer to the Savior of the world. Just like I have a problem with "Honk for Jesus" bumper stickers. I think words are important and we should use reverent words when referring to the Savior. Cal is right the Lord probably doesn't take offense as much as we do but the problem is I think our words determine our attitudes and if we use words lightly, or use flippant words, it takes away some of the reverence we may feel.

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Jesus himself said that he was sent to the lost sheep of Israel, and that is because of covenant. As you point out Israel had a lot of problems, hence his statement "Let the children first be filled." He wasn't calling the woman a dog but using a metaphor to emphasize where his priority lay.

So if I were to use a metaphor in regards to members of another race, religion, or ethnicity, or sex that was unnecessarily demeaning or derogatory towards them, you wouldn't find it the slightest bit demeaning or offensive because I was simply pointing out where my priorities lay? I believe you would find my metaphor offensive and demeaning.

...Note however, that this woman's faith was so great that he told her that her daughter was healed because of that. That wasn't the action of someone who had no compassion.

I agree. Are you suggesting that being racist precludes one from being compassionate towards someone they consider to be inferior to themselves?

This demonstrates how some will find offense in words and context they don't understand.

Actually, I believe I've demonstrated I understood the words and context just fine. You and Mordecai (and likely others who have remained silent on the issue) disagree with my assessment, apparently solely because it happens to be Jesus and not Peter, Paul, or Mary who said it (although you both seek alternative, plausible, non-racist explanations for Jesus' behavior which I find simply don't stand up to close scrutiny). Had it have been anyone else who said it, you might have said that they were merely "behaving in a manner that was consistent with the times", "acting or speaking as a man/woman", etc.

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@AmorLibertas: There's nothing more to be said. I've had the feeling you're just trolling for some time, so I'm going to go with that and not "feed the trolls." Sorry if that's "insulting and degrading."

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@AmorLibertas: There's nothing more to be said. I've had the feeling you're just trolling for some time, so I'm going to go with that and not "feed the trolls." Sorry if that's "insulting and degrading."

Very sad that someone has so little knowledge of who it is he condemns.

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Very sad that someone has so little knowledge of who it is he condemns.

Yes, it is sad. I suspect he doesn't care who he is condemning but only cares about the attention it draws to himself.

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  • 3 weeks later...

So I decided to resurrect this thread just to add one more thing. It's probably not very debatable, so I doubt it will incite discussion. Still, the word star to describe famous people, seems like a topic of discussion for Mormons. Are famous people a source of light? Do we look up to them in the darkness? The ancient Jews considered stars to be angels in Heaven. Is that a good message to send to children about famous people? How about we call famous people, "Great and Spacious Building Tenants." We can still "look up to them," but in a different way. heh heh

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Jesus wasn't being racist in his exchange with the woman, he was using satire of the Jewish mindset to prove a point, and she was quick witted enough to catch on and play her part in the exchange.

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