Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Time to Speak

While I was sitting in my institute class this evening, the prompting came to write this blog post. The topic of discussion for the day was on not judging and not spreading gossip. These are important topics, essential to the Christian life. However, I was disturbed at the turn that the lesson took.

The teacher spent a good portion of the lesson on how we shouldn't say bad things about someone even if those things are true. One guy in the class raised his hand and proposed an excellent hypothetical that bears discussion.
You know that someone "has a morality problem". [My classmate didn't elaborate. I'm assuming from the tenor of the discussion that what he meant to say was that the individual had pressured a woman he dated into breaking the law of chastity.] Your sister or friend starts dating him. Shouldn't you tell her what you know so that she can be aware and protect herself?
The teacher gave lip service to the notion that you should go by the Spirit in deciding what to say. However, she spent the next several minutes talking about how if we share negative information, even if it's true, that it paints a label on someone and prevents him or her from changing. While she didn't come right out and say it, the impression that I was left with was that making it easier for a sinner to avoid embarrassment in the repentance process (assuming they even choose to repent) outweighed protecting the innocent potential victims. I'm sure that isn't what she meant, but it disturbed me nonetheless.

I had an experience on my mission where I had an emotionally and verbally abusive companion. At first, I was reluctant to bring it to the attention of my leaders, because I had had it drilled into me in missionary prep and in the MTC that there's a reason for every companion, you shouldn't complain about them, and if you're having trouble, you should just pray for more charity. I let this go on for several weeks before I told my mission president. He transfered me right away and my companion was sent home a few weeks later.

Part of me I guess believed that since mission presidents are inspired in the setting of companionships, that they know everything there is to know about a situation. Several months later, I was discussing the situation again with my mission president (because I was still distressed over it), and he told me that if he had known what was going on sooner, he would have transferred me immediately. I realized that if we don't volunteer the information we have, then people with the power to do something won't be aware that something needs doing.

I highly doubt that I was this companion's first victim. If one of them had spoken out, I might have been spared the pain I went through. I believe that by speaking out, I spared someone else down the line.

One scripture that speaks to this topic is found in the third chapter of Ecclesiastes. "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven...A time to keep silence and a time to speak." When deciding whether to share negative but true information, I think there are some factors that need to be considered.

First, why are you sharing it? If it's to protect someone, that is fine. If it's because you enjoy passing along juicy tidbits, that's not fine.
Second, who are you sharing it with? Are you telling everyone, or just the people who need to know?
Third, are you violating any confidences by sharing the information? This can get problematic, for example if a lawyer learns something from a client, or the bishop hears something in confession.

If you can pass this test, then it sounds like it's a time to speak. Even Jesus, the perfect embodiment of charity, had some not so positive things to say about some people who were behaving harmfully. He was motivated by love and concern, both for the sinners and the victims. We should feel confident in following His example.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Around the Bloggernacle - Volume 2

I've been busy lately between job hunting and filling out another round of law school applications (more on that later), and so I haven't taken the time to write a blog post in a while. Here's a list of some of the posts on other blogs that have caught my attention lately.

Beginnings New has a post on the YW Lesson 3-8 "Eternal Families" that provides a fresh perspective on how sensitive an issue this can be for youth from part-member or less-active families.

Times and Seasons has a post about Nate Oman's recently written paper about LDS church courts in the 19th century.

By Common Consent has a post about experiences singing solos in church. I posted a comment on one of my more spiritual singing experiences. I have several funnier or more embarrassing experiences as well that I didn't post in the comments, due to length. So, here's my most embarrassing:
  • When I was on my mission (why is it that so many good church related stories start like that?), the day of the ward Christmas party, the ward mission leader called me in a panic. The soprano soloist for the party had a last-minute emergency and had to back out. He remembered me mentioning that I sang in the opera in college, and he implored me to fill in that evening. I had a really bad cold and could barely talk, but I said yes anyway. My companion and I headed over to the church so that I could practice. I was supposed to sing The First Noel, and since I couldn't get an accompanist last-minute, I needed to sing a capella. While rehearsing, I was able to sing just fine, as if the cold was gone. When the time came for me to sing, I got through the first half with no problem. Something happened in the middle, and my voice went all haywire. I finished the song, but it wasn't pretty. I sat down, embarrassed, hoping that by the end of the party, everyone would have forgotten. Afterward, the bishop's wife, who didn't know about my singing experience and training, patted me on the back and complimented me on my bravery for getting up in front of everyone to sing.

I hope you all are having a great week! Check back on Tuesday or Wednesday for a more substantive post. (Now that I've put it on the internet for all to see, I'm going to actually have to follow through and do it.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Law School Applications- Round 2.0

On Friday, I sent in my first batch of law school applications for the fall semester. I had to cut the list down considerably because many of the schools were not even willing to consider someone who had previously attended law school. To make up for that, I'm going to probably apply to a few more schools as a backup later this week. I've already applied to 5 schools, and I'm going to shoot for 4-5 more to be on the safe side. I'm fighting an uphill battle here, but I'm confident that I'll get in somewhere.

The job search is going slowly, but I had an interview last week. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I'll do a more spiritual post in a few days when I have some more time.