We have an interesting new question today. Before we get to it, however, I want to make it clear that there are some ground rules on this one. Otherwise, it could turn into a brawl, and I’m too old to referee a free-for-all.

I’ll give you the ground rules once you’ve read Mary’s letter. Here it is:

I’ve been interested for awhile in the issue between what is actual doctrine and what is the opinion of church leaders. The recent caffeinated drinks debate is an example.

Some church members take as “gospel” every word that proceeds out of the mouth of General Authorities, whether it be opinion, an offhand comment, or a personal view. I’d love to hear how others make the distinction between the absolutes and the recommendations (not that those have any less merit), and how to respond to those members who approach those “grey areas” (such as shopping on Sunday or attending R-rated movies) with more fanaticism.


Now that you’ve read the letter, you can see that there’s the potential for a lot of flying fur. This is not going to happen!

The topic here is NOT what choice you’ve made about caffeinated drinks, R-rated movies, or shopping on Sunday (or anything else, for that matter), unless it’s only peripheral to the letter. For example, if your letter says something to the effect of, “I anguished over such-and-such decision and then decided this way for myself because,” it might fly. But if there’s even a hint of, “I do so-and-so because Prophet X or G.A. Z said so-and-so back in 1947, and if you’re a good member of the Church you’ll do the same,” there’s not a chance in the world your letter is going to run.

This topic is NOT a righteousness contest. In fact, as Mary herself asked, she wants to know how people sort these decisions out. She specifically wants to know how to deal with people who make their own personal decisions and then browbeat others into doing the same thing. So please, please don’t make her case by being a browbeater!

If you have something you’d like to share to help Mary, please send your comments to Me**************@ao*.com. Put something in the subject line to tell me your letter isn’t spam. Please do not use the form on this page, or your letter is likely to get lost and your time will have been wasted. You don’t want this to happen!

Until next week I am cowering in trepidation


“The tendency to turn human judgments into divine commands
makes religion one of the most dangerous forces in the world.”

Georgia Harkness


Want more Kathryn H. Kidd? Visit www.planetkathy.com to read her blog, get free stuff, and participate in the new Ask Madame Kathy forum. Kathy also has a weekly column at the Nauvoo Times (www.nauvootimes.com).