Don’t Shoot Until You See the Whites of Their Eyes
J. Max Wilson has written a couple of posts critiquing liberal believing Mormons. (Well, he has written more than a couple of posts, actually, but these are the latest few). This time, he addresses it from the vantage point of Mormons rejecting present leadership by hoping for future revelation (hat tip to chanson for cluing me in to JMW’s criticism of Latter-day Saints who live in the future.
He has written a follow-up addressing prophetic fallibility.
Just to quote a bit from his latest post:
The whole point of having a prophet in the first place is that a prophet is a metaphorical “watchman on the tower”. While his eyesight may be just as fallible as anyone else, the tower upon which he stands provides him with a view superior to those with equally good eyes but who are not situated upon the tower. His view is better not because his eyes are superior but because his location on the tower allows him to see farther and more; not because of something inherent or different in his person, but because of something inherent in the position in which he has been placed for the protection and benefit of all.
This analogy is fun, because I notice a pretty big issue here.
In church lingo, it is the problem of addressing the needs of the 99 vs. addressing the needs of the 1. In non-church lingo, it is a matter of whether or not leadership ought to prioritized generalized cases or whether they can risk reaching out individually.
It may be true that the watchman on the tower may be able to see farther and more (even if his eyesight is the same as everyone else [hopefully, he's not myopic]), but this doesn’t necessarily mean that his view will be superior. If you need to see further out, then perhaps we could say being higher up is an advantage.
…but suppose that the problem was never on grand strategy but on tactics and operations? Suppose the problem was with supposed “edge cases”.
I think that Mormonism works pretty well for a privileged set of folks. It is taking more and more steps to move past its positions of racial privilege. so I won’t count that here, but there are still very much privileges associated with gender, sexual orientation, belief status, and so on. The leaders cannot address these issues by continuing to address the most privileged members (who are “safe” because of their privilege.)
…at the same time, I understand that the leaders are actually not well primed to address the less privileged members either. Being on top of a watchtower means that one must think strategically and not operationally. It wouldn’t do for a watchman performing recon to instead try to discern minute details on the ground.
It would help if we had a robust system for discerning the differences. If the watchmen gave generalized counsel (suitable with their big-picture perspective), but people “on the ground” fleshed out with more specific details.
Let’s put it another way. Say we are fighting a war. You have one guy in recon balloons/helicopters/planes. You have another guy on the field with fine tools — surgical magnifying glasses, scalpels, etc., It may be true that in some cases, you will defer to the guy in the plane…but who do you want to treat your wound? Do you want the guy in the plane to scope out the wounded and decide what is best to be done for them from the sky? Is it a rejection of the value of the tower to recognize the value of the ground? The value of the magnifying glass?