Sunday, September 29, 2013

Happened to stumble across BYU TV tonight...

And I have to say, I ran across a VERY disturbing message offered by some relief society leader.  This woman got up, said she wanted to relate a story that had "touched her heart", and then proceeded to tell everyone about a farmer who had a troublesome ewe who was always running off and leading other sheep astray.

The farmer was happy to give the ewe to another, supposedly wiser, farmer.  The second farmer took the ewe to his farm, staked her out in a paddock, and left her there to teach her to stay put.  After time, the ewe stopped trying to escape because she finally accepted that she was tied up and had thus become submissive and compliant.  When the farmer finally untied her, she had to be coaxed to move around because she didn't know she was untied.  This story was actually offered as an uplifting anecdote for the women who had gathered together for this nonsense.  Granted, it was probably meant more as a metaphorical anecdote about dealing with "wayward children" and many churches do refer to followers as a flock.  But these were adult women listening to this story, not children... Of course, maybe many of the leaders think of the women as children.

Frankly, I found the story disturbing on many levels.  First off, when you think of "sheep", what comes to mind?  When I think of sheep, I think of livestock that are used as an example of creatures that are subject to group think.  When you think of people who don't think for themselves, you think of sheep, right?

Secondly, what happens to most sheep?  They get sheared if they're lucky.  If they're not, they get slaughtered or sacrificed.  Either way, they're used for some higher being and often end up giving their very lives in the process.  They are herded by men or dogs and forced to stay in line and do what they're told.

Thirdly, the farmer basically takes a free-spirited, independent minded, intelligent creature and forces her to obey by restraining her.  This is not something that most people would think of as a loving action.  I mean, what was the farmer going to do with the sheep once he had taught her not to try to run away?  He would be using her somehow... kind of the same way the church uses its members to clean the toilets in the meeting houses.

While I am not LDS and know nothing about what the typical Mormon woman's experience is, I will say that I have run into quite a few ex LDS women.  And a lot of them say they left the church because they found it very stifling, intrusive, and restrictive... perhaps not unlike being "staked down" by a farmer who seeks to exploit them somehow at some point.

Of course, the woman presented this story as if the farmer was wise and kindly... but the reality is, most farmers are very much realists as to the way they use their livestock.  Animals are there for their livelihood.  They are not pampered pets.  Even a dog or a cat living on a farm likely has a job to do.  In much the same way, I have observed that the church apparently views its members similarly... as tools to be used for its growth.  The leaders may be portrayed as benevolent and wise, but the truth is, the leaders need workers who will follow them without question, pay tithes... and do all the dirty work and make sacrifices for the leaders' benefit and that of the church's.  And the "good sheep" don't try to escape.  But then they are rewarded by losing their wool or their lives for the good of the "benevolent farmer".

The fact that the woman used sheep to illustrate her "point" is all the more ironic to me.  Has she never heard of people engaged in group think as "sheep"?  I guess not.  Indeed, I'm certain that many of the women were nodding and sighing at the "wisdom" conveyed in this woman's talk, not even thinking about the potentially sinister connotations of her little anecdote.  You know, maybe it's not such a good thing that BYU TV is so freely offered on television systems viewed by non members...

I had to turn the channel after I saw the sheep talk, but it was time for dinner anyway-- my husband prepared it, by the way.  ;-)  But I was so fired up, I started going off about the dipshit military spouses who think I ought to be grateful for being referred to as a dependent...

2 comments:

  1. I was going to turn it on but no one else wanted to watch it and I didn't want to go up to my room and be antisocial. Later tonight when I'm in bed, I'll check for a repeat. I should've gone up and DVRed it. We're low-tech here. We don't have the plan where you record something on one TV and watch it anywhere in the house.

    What freaks me about the sheep story is that LDS inc. found it fitting to allow that "talk" to be given. Talks are submitted for approval weeks in advance and are put on a teleprompter. If a person deviates much at all, production staff is prepared to virtually pull the plug on the speaker and go immediately to a hymn.

    So one disturbed Mormon does not surprise me. That the church itself didn't recognize the speech as bad PR makes me question the reading comprehsnsion of the mucky-muck who let that one slip through. I may venture over to RFM to see if it has hit the radar.

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