29 July 2007

On Criticism

Andy & I have recently been discussing: What exactly IS criticizing your leaders? This article looks like exactly the answer we've been looking for.

Here's the meat of the article:
I am persuaded that many do not understand the Church’s teachings about personal criticism, especially the criticism of Church leaders by Church members.

I do not refer to the kind of criticism the dictionary defines as “the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.” (Random House Dictionary, unabridged ed., s.v. “criticism.”) That kind of criticism is inherent in the exercise of agency and freedom. In the political world, critical evaluation inevitably accompanies any knowledgeable exercise of the cherished freedoms of speech and of the press. In the private world, we have a right to expect critical evaluation of anything that is put into the marketplace or the public domain. Sports writers, reviewers of books and music, scholars, investment analysts, and those who test products and services must be free to exercise their critical faculties and to inform the public accordingly. This kind of criticism is usually directed toward issues, and it is usually constructive.

My cautions against criticism refer to another of its meanings, which the dictionary defines as “the act of passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding.” (Ibid., s.v. “criticism.”) Faultfinding is “the act of pointing out faults, especially faults of a petty nature.” (Ibid., s.v. “faultfinding.”) It is related to “backbiting,” which means “to attack the character or reputation of [a person who is not present].” (Ibid., s.v. “backbite.”) This kind of criticism is generally directed toward persons, and it is generally destructive.

Faultfinding, evil speaking, and backbiting are obviously unchristian. The Bible commands us to avoid “evil speakings.” (See 1 Pet. 2:1.) It tells us to “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you.” (Eph. 4:31.) Modern revelations direct us to avoid “backbiting,” “evil speaking,” and “find[ing] fault one with another.” (See D&C 20:53–54; D&C 42:27; D&C 88:124; and D&C 136:23.)

1 comment:

Keeley said...

This is very interesting!

So...I could say TO the RS president, for example: "maybe it would be helpful if you did XYZ"? and this would be constructive criticism.

But if I said to Mrs. H, "Man, that RS President is really failing in this regard - she should do XYZ." That would be good example of criticism we should avoid?

Or are both ok, and just the "That RS President is such an IDIOT" is inappropriate...as well as immature? =Þ

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