Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Et Tu, Dieter?

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is no longer my Obi-Wan Kenobi. For a long time Dieter Uchtdorf was, from my perspective, the only hope for any kind of positive shift away from the dehumanizing corporation theology of the LDS church. My hopes have been dashed before. But this is more significant because he was literally the last best hope among the hierarchy for common sense and human decency in a church that isn't necessarily malicious but is more and more thoughtless as time marches on.

In March of 2010, Uchtdorf gave a talk in the General Young Women Meeting (an annual meeting the weekend before the April General Conference of the LDS church). It was titled Your Happily Ever After. This talk encouraged young women to reflect on the experience of fairy tale princesses for guidance on how to find happiness in life. Disturbing to be sure, but we've all given talks that we didn't put enough time and thought into and that ended up going badly. I guess I was hoping this was one of those for Dieter Uchtdorf.

Turns out, not so much.

Dieter Uchtdorf and Marlin Jensen are the only two within the LDS hierarchy I've had any significant hope for in the last couple of years. Jensen seems to have been completely sidelined. Also, Jeffrey Holland (hopes dashed years ago) had his epic, and frankly pathetic, meltdown in his October 2009 conference talk.

Now, Deseret Book is publishing Uchtdorf's misogyny-wrapped-in-a-poofy-prom-dress-and-toppe​d-with-a-tiara talk as a book, also titled Your Happily Ever After. By publishing this book, Uchtdorf is essentially chiseling it into stone and the church is endorsing it as the "proper" way for women in the church to live their lives. He and the church are setting women and men (and entire families) up for disappointment, misery and lifelong guilt if their devotion to the church doesn't have the perfect (and impossible) fairy tale ending. It's a disgusting example of inoculating devout members against "the world" (i.e., REALITY).

How can any of us have much hope for Dieter Uchtdorf now? This development makes me angry and sad. It seems that he's revealed himself as yet another clueless corporate manager speaking truthiness.


  1. Funny, the sidelining of GAs with a more human-centric outlook repeats itself in every generation. Thirty years ago it was the obvious change in status of the saintly and humanitarian Marion D. Hanks.

  2. Excellent insight, MoHoHawaii. Thanks!

    That reminds me of the near-resignation (so it is told) of apostle Stephen L. Richards in the 1930s in response to a dispute arising from Richards' publicly-voiced concerns (in a General Conference talk) about then-president of the church Heber J. Grant's draconian approach to the Word of Wisdom in the aftermath of the Prohibition debacle. Grant ordered that Richards' talk be excluded from the Conference Report and threw a bit of a tantrum.

    Yes, leadership of the church are human, but we should all expect more from the leaders of a multinational religion.

  3. " ...but we should all expect more from the leaders of a multinational religion."

    Not to mention one that is supposedly "the only true and living Church on the face of the earth" and which is supposed to be led by prophets, seers and revelators.

  4. Great post and insights. My favorite part of the whole post is this: "Now, Deseret Book is publishing Uchtdorf's misogyny-wrapped-in-a poofy-prom-dress-and-toppe​d-with-a-tiara talk as a book, also titled Your Happily Ever After." Very descriptive. I agree that by publishing this book, this mindset is being "essentially chiseled into stone" as the "proper" way for women in the church to live their lives. Of course, the church sets up men and women constantly for "disappointment, misery and lifelong guilt if their devotion to the church doesn't have the perfect (and impossible) fairy tale ending." It truly is "a disgusting example of inoculating devout members against "the world" (i.e., REALITY)." I've written a blog post about this topic as well (in which I quote you), and if you want to read it, here's a link: http://mormonismschism.blogspot.com/2011/08/your-happily-ever-after-really.html

  5. Diane, thanks again for your kind words and your comment here. I appreciate you raising awareness of Uchtdorf's new book and your examination of its impact.

    On a quick personal note, I'm always thrilled to make connections with good people like you through blogging and the ex-mo, post-mo, questioning-mo and whatever-mo communities. See you around. :)

  6. Just a suggestion, READ the talk. Hearts will be softened, faith will be restored, Obi will once again be Kenobied.

    You're making the mistake of literally judging a book by its cover (or, in this case, by its marketing blurbs). Seriously. Read the talk. It will take you maybe ten minutes and then you can spend some time constructing an adequate apology.

  7. I have read the talk in full. I disagree with it. I am troubled by what can happen if it is followed. The book is being promoted as an expansion of the talk. That said, I wasn't judging the book. I was expressing concern about the essential message of Uchtdorf's talk and book (and the marketing blurbs for that matter), which, in my opinion, set up girls and women in the church for failure based on wrong-headed expectations and dressed-up misogyny.

    I wasn't aware that expressing concerns and opinions with which some people may disagree required "constructing an adequate apology." But thanks for your anonymous suggestion and your use of the classic Monson passive voice triteness.