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Of Mormons, Post Mormons, and the Canyon in Between
 
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I recently read an interesting exchange on Sunstoneblog.com concerning a blog post from a dear friend of mine, and the response by another mutual friend of ours.  As a result, I had a bit of a personal epiphany.

 

I've struggled a great deal to try to understand the gulf--the canyon, if you will--that exists between those who love the church and those who leave.  There is anger, hostility, fear and resentment that seems to dominate the interaction between those who live on one canyon lip and those who live on the other.  I've struggled with that, because it seems so unnecessary.

 

When I read my friends' thoughts, a couple of things jumped out at me.

 

What I understood with a renewed clarity was that from the perspective of a truly faithful Mormon, leaving the church is a sin.  It is something from which the apostate must repent.  The very word "apostate" has such a negative connotation in church circles that people are reluctant to utter it.  In essence, the apostate has taken their testimony of God, Jesus Christ, and the restoration of the gospel (including a knowledge of the Plan of Salvation), and tossed it away.  They have declared it unnecessary at best, or deceitful at worst.  This is tantamount to rejecting God himself, and how can you do that without committing grievous sin?  In essence, Son's of Perdition occupy the worst spot in the heavens because they knew God and rejected him.  While church members might never give most apostates that same level of credit for "knowledge of Jesus Christ," nevertheless it is along that same continuum of ultimate evil.  The only hope of redemption from apostasy is repentance. 

 

Furthermore, the rejection of the gospel, from the Mormon perspective, makes as much sense as rejecting gravity.  "You can say you don't believe in gravity, but if you jump off that bridge, you are still held captive by it's effects."  The believing member "knows" that the gospel is as true as gravity, and what fool would willingly reject truth?

 

But there's a flip side to it.  A dark flip side.  If Mormonism doesn'twork for some people, what does it say about Mormonism?  How can gravity not work for some people?  Obviously, it should work for all people, and therefore, when a person leaves the church, there are only two really tenable possibilities. 

 

1)  The person has something amiss in their life, and they are not COOPERATING with Mormonism; or

 

2)  Mormonism might not be true.

 

The second one has to be rejected outright, because what does that mean for all the sacrifices a faithful member has made in the name of their religion?  All the testimonies they've born, the tithing they've paid, the countless hours of service, and the warm-fuzzy feelings that they've enjoyed when they read the scriptures to their children?  No, that one isn't feasible.

 

So it must be option a.  Something is amiss in the life of the apostate, and if we can identify it, then we can correct it.  And more importantly, we can shore up our own defenses to make certain that we are not caught vulnerable in the same fashion.  That's why faithful members are quick to assume that there are Word of Wisdom problems, morality problems, or a prideful countenance.  The assumption of weakness on the part of the apostate relieves them of the possibility of weakness on the part of Mormonism.

 

And so you have the Mormons actively moving away from their apostate friends, family members and ward members.  They are to stand in holy places, and cannot tolerate the presence of sin.

 

The Postmormon knows this.  They've been there, and they know how the thinking goes.  They feel the condemnation, they feel the pitty, they feel the embarrassment spent on their behalf.  And yet, they know for themselves that they did NOT leave on account of weakness, they left from a position of strength!  We want desperately to show to church members the things we've learned, the things we've uncovered about the church, it's leaders, its history and ourselves along the way to prove that we are NOT fallen, that we are NOT lost, but that we have emerged to a happy, healthier self.  We want them to see that...

 

...and they can't! 

 

So we react from a place of defensiveness and hostility.  We lash out at them for failing to meet our needs, when in fact, they CAN'T meet our needs. 

 

And the canyon widens, as we gird up our loins, armed with all the information we have uncovered, and wage a war of information with the faithful in an effort to prove to them that we are right!  What I cannot help but wonder, however, is if in the heat of battle, we are really trying to ensure OURSELVES that we are right.  Is it our own sense of insecurity in the face of the condemnation we believe we feel coming from across the chasm that causes us to be hurt and defensive?

 

What I wonder is if the healthy people on both sides are the ones who are secure in their own beliefs without the need to be "right" in the eyes of others.  They know what they know, they believe what they believe, and they are satisfied that anything else that has thus far escaped their personal canon, may still exist in the realm of "what is possible" rather than "what is wrong."   

 

This is my personal epiphany, and if I am to rise to Jeff's challenge in the Billboard story in the Herald Journal that we are "about building bridges" with the LDS community, then I need to evaluate my own motives for arming myself for battle.  And I need to be ever mindful of the existential insecurities of not only myself, but my Mormon friends, as well.

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I've been upset by some of the negativity on the board between those in and those out of the Church. I don't think this community should foster an environment of reaction and argument between these two groups.

 

We may not see eye to eye, and our thoughts may not even be framed the same way, but negative tones and argumentative comments will not do much to "build bridges". Free and open discussion on any topic related to the Church is wonderful! The support we give to each other is needed. Even respectful debate free of animosity is beneficial.

 

It just seems that there have been a number of posts recently, by both parties, which were created to put a flame under someone with an opposing viewpoint. I would hope we can all be more respectful with an understanding of our differences.

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Wow, Peter_Mary, this a great post. Is this going to archived somewhere, like on the Encyclopedia?

 

I don't have much to say in response right now, but not because your post wasn't thought-provoking. On the contrary, it's given me much to think about, and I need mull it over.

 

Thanks!

AA

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P_M,

 

I have come to expect great insight from you, and as always, you have delivered in this thread.

 

I observed the reaction to the recent influx of TBMs to the site with some interest. 

 

My take on it is along these lines. Mormonism is largely a B&W worldview. It is also significantly fear based. From their perspective, either they are right and we are wrong, or the other inconceivable possibility, as you mentioned.

 

Most postmos have progressed beyond that early stage of development to a lesser or greater degree, but I am sure when stressed or distressed, slip in part or significantly back into that right/wrong dichotomy. And in that mode, we may as well be back there, because we have reverted to their level of functioning.

 

So why is reverting so easy?

 

I think it is because dealing with people who function in B&W mode can be extremely difficult, and stressful. They typically press buttons where we are still healing, so may be raw and even angry. And to the degree to which we let ourselves 'decentre', than we go back to that level of functioning, getting hooked right in.

 

How to avoid that trap is the question I ask myself periodically.

 

  • First appears to be to stay centred and to invest in our own Observer, to stand outside ourselves and watch ourselves and the interaction dispassionately.
  • Observing any processes used by TBMs to reframe the world in B&W, rights and wrongs, and to observe carefully any pull we feel to engage/react to that position.
  • Closely connected to that is observing closely their emotional state, and to not get distracted by just the words.
  • Reflective listening might help.
  • 'I' Statements definately helps me.

 

That is just a few of the things that have helped me, but I know I hook more than I should frequently.

 

Any other observations on individual experience of getting hooked??? 

 

It seems to me that when we interact with them and get angry, we are projecting parts of ourselves and giving our power over to them. But in looking inward, in seeing which of our buttons they can press, we get valuable insight into our own pathways to growth and healing.

 

That makes me go back and rethink our humour here. I know from men's work that sometimes men use humour to separate from and deny their vulnerability, and to the extent they do that, that are uncentred. That does not mean that there is no place for humour, but it can clearly be overdone. 

 

Daryl 

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Great post Peter Mary.

 

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peter mary

I'm not really on either side of the canyon.  I'm not mormon and I'm not post mormon. I won't ever be either.  I have my own ideas and I'm really at peace.  I am, however, still considered "misled" by my life long friend.  While she won't outright say this to me, she has told me the reason I hadn't accepted the Mormon gospel, is that I wasn't "ready" to hear it.  This assumes she has a "truth" that I will eventually be "ready" to accept.  I told her that I read about Mormonism, the beliefs and the practices and I didn't believe it.  She assured me that unless I had listened to the Missionary Discussions, I couldn't rely on what I had read by my own means.  She is telling me that not only am I not "ready" to hear the "truth" but I am not capable of seeking out information and forming my own independent opinion.

  

What makes me most unhappy about her approach is the arrogance of rejecting my own ability to think for myself, do my own research and draw my own conclusions.  Because they make claim to having premiere status as the "only true church", then it isn't possible to "reject" what is true and it is either in my error of faulty information seeking and unreliable sources or just my own deficiency of "not being ready" to accept the truth.  Both of these ideas are arrogant and is making very strong statements about themselves and myself as well.  They're Right and I'm not only wrong, but not capable of making sound decisions, which might include deciding I find no truth in Mormonsim.  That's not valid because that conclusion is not possible.  The church is "true" and there is no other valid or correct way to see this.

 

This arrogance towards others and their "error" in not accepting the truth of the Mormon church is what fuels these feelings.  It has been difficult not to just "tell her off" and call her on the "judgemental arrogance", but I don't.  I'm not sure if I told her how I felt, if she'd understand and it might just hurt her.  Would she understand?  Can she see how these views make me feel?  Does she hear her words in the same way I hear them?   So, instead of risking hurting her in the same way that she has hurt me,  I sigh, I take a deep breath, I forgive and I Love her.  BUT.........I remember...... how her "truth" has made me feel everytime someone asks me about my own spiritual beliefs and remember how terrible it feels to be judged "wrong" by someone who knows they have a "truth" you aren't "ready" or wish to accept or have simply found it is not true, not true to you at all.

 

It has been a very challenging friendship.  I've had to temper my feelings, curb my tongue and keep in mind that she must not be able to see outside of her world view.  

 
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I didn't think that this kind of topic would show up here.  I happy to see it and hope many read it.  You know, as a TBM, I'm going to have a lot to say here.  So here I go.

 

Two weeks ago, I came here looking to find understanding that spawned from a desire to be a better father.  Many times, I 've heard mentioned here that it is widely believed you left the church for "wicked desires".  Now it has never bothered me that people apostacize from the church.  Apostasy has always been prevelent and can be found in all the works (OT, NT, BoM, early church history, and even today).  But I'll admit that this thinking was a general belief in my mind.  But you have made me change my mind.  It was easy to see that, at least for this group, many here made the choice to leave the church based on informed decissions.  I have also discovered that there are good people here, which is why I've stayed.  I can honestly say that from things that both my wife and I have learned in the past two weeks, we have been able to see some people who leave the church in a whole new light and understanding.  We even have greater respect for some of the more famous apostates that we learn about in church history.  I am speaking generally here because each of your stories are a little different. 

 

Some of you have left because of bad experiences.  These stories break my heart, because they should not happen. 

 

Some never had testimonies.  This is fine, and personally I think you made a good choice.  I mean, living the church is difficult.  No arguement there. So why would you want to if you don't have a testimony.

 

It takes time to understand everyone on an individual level, and I hope to understand more as I get to know some of you better. 

 

BUT...and this is something I believe in...if you want to build bridges, then you need to step out and seek to understand TBMs, with ALL their quircks.  The best way to get people to understand you is to try and understand those people.  Can you understand why members love the prophets and teachings?  It's so often not out of ignorance as some have suggested here.  Can you understand how members rely on the spirit, a very real experience.  Can you understand why TBMs type hit and run posts and do annoying things like bearing testimonies?  Can you understand why some TBMs, probably all at some point, have shied away from things that you have learned?  And probably most important, can you see all these differences and still respect them as people? 

 

I would and have asked these same types of questions to active mormons...though in reverse.

 

Let me tell you of my experience these last two weeks.  I do this so that maybe you can understand me a little better.  I know many don't agree with things I have to say.  I think it was Pnut who told me that I had to step it up a bit in my knowledge to be able to converse here effectively.  I found this quickly to be true.  While I consider myself educated, there was much here that I didn't know.  So I read posts  and I researched.  And boy was there a lot I hadn't considered before.  For me, this was good reason enough to be thankful that I found good people here.  Two things really bothered me right off the bat: the constant attacks on Joseph's character (and also other church leaders) and the repeated idea that men seek control over women in the church.  So these were the two topics I focused on for almost two weeks.  My research on early church polygamy was part of both concepts.  I read a lot of things that bothered me, and I pondered much on what I read.  I have much of what you say to be true.  I have to say that it has been a really great experience for me.  I plan on started new threads about things that I have learned so that I can get your opinions.  So I won't go into it here.  But to bottom line it...my testimony has grown stronger.  I have a much greater respect for the women of early church history, as well as Joseph himself than I ever did.  I have learned new concepts about what it really means to be a good husband, things I had never considered before.  I have even had one of my biggest contradicting questions answered after so long, something I never would have thougt to have found here.  But most important to me is that I have finally been able to recognize the spirit.  You see, this has been difficulty for me almost all my life.  I have had spiritual experiences before, so I knew what it felt like.  But they were so long ago and few in number.  I don't think I have ever felt the spirit so consistently than in these last two weeks.  

 

So my question is, is it odd to you that my reaction to what I have learned recently has been so different from what your reaction was?  I suspect many of you have your theories as to why.  I can say that I have my new theories as to why you left the church.   But it is up to each of us to see if either theories are true or false.  But most important, at least to me, can we respect each other despite what our theories are about each other?

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This is a very good topic pnut!  Thanks for posting your ideas. 

 

wiley:

So my question is, is it odd to you that my reaction to what I have learned recently has been so different from what your reaction was?  I suspect many of you have your theories as to why.  I can say that I have my new theories as to why you left the church.   But it is up to each of us to see if either theories are true or false.  But most important, at least to me, can we respect each other despite what our theories are about each other?

 

 

Wiley, your ability to search out and be open minded is very refreshing to me.  Right off the bat, yes it is very odd to me that you can hear and study these same things and have quite the opposite reaction that I have.  Although studying these things is not what caused me to leave the church in the first place, it was more from studying church doctrine that I left.  I never read any "anti" material until I had been out of the church for about 3 years.  So maybe it is odd to you that I could have decided the church isn't true based on things that they actually teach in church?

My whole entire family is TBM and they don't understand why I don't go to church.  They try to bear their testimonies to me all the time and tell me that they are praying that I will change and come back one day.  I know they love me and just want what is best for me, but it is very hard because they don't care why I left the church.  They never ask and never want to have a discussion with me about it at all.  In fact one of them asked me once (this was still back before I had read any "anti" material at all) and when I started talking about my questions and concerns with the church doctrine she stopped me cold and told me she didn't want to hear me "regurgitate" what I had read on anti-mormon websites or in anti-mormon books.  She then proceeded to tell me that the reason that I couldn't gain a testimony or feel the spirit is because I wasn't living my life correctly (like she would know, she is my sister-in-law that I barely ever talk to).  Anyway the point of telling you all of this, is that I find it hard to respect TBMs because of all of this.  Afterall I have a hard time finding any of them who will have a real discussion about things with me.

That said, I want to thank you for being the first exception to that rule that I have found. 

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wiley

I believe before reading anything here you've made a firm choice to take the good with the bad in regard to your choice of religion.  So, no, I'm not suprised that you're okay with what you're discovering.  It would not suprise me if you even said that the holy spirit is closer than ever before to you, protecting you and guiding you from any messages that could "harm you" and leading you to conclusions that only serve to build your faith.  (I've heard many folks say such things like this before.) We do create our own reality based on our closely held convictions, experiences and perspectives.  It is like a painting, what looks like a squiggle to some, might remind someone else of a dream or a tree or their dog.  Interpretation of information is wide and varied and also deeply personal.

 

You do make one statement that rather suprises me.  What are the "new conclusions" you've drawn about why people here have left the Mormon church?  Do you have any theories as to why I reject "your truth" as "my truth"? (And I don't mean, speak for the church, but rather speak for your own thoughts.)  Are your conclusions and theories the same as my friends about me?  Is it possible for anyone to conclude that the Mormon beliefs are not true?   Is the only "right choice" to make is to accept the LDS gospel?  Does rejecting them mean you are "misled", "not ready to accept the gospel" or "deceived"?    

 

 
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wiley:

So my question is, is it odd to you that my reaction to what I have learned recently has been so different from what your reaction was?  I suspect many of you have your theories as to why.  I can say that I have my new theories as to why you left the church.   But it is up to each of us to see if either theories are true or false.  But most important, at least to me, can we respect each other despite what our theories are about each other?

 

Wiley, I'm not surprised at all. It isn't the first time I've heard it this sort of statement.

 

The whole concept of having "theories" about why I left the church bothers me. In my mind that means you are theorizing rather than listening and believing that I speak honestly about why I left.  I left because I could not accept the difference between what I was taught and what I found the facts to be. Once I found out the facts, the rest went down like dominoes. 

 The idea that you need to theorize why I took the step to leave implies that you think I am somehow being dishonest with you or myself.

For me the basis for honest discussion begins with both parties speaking and accepting the truth.  If we judge each other's statements based on a "theory" we have about the reasons behind the post then there will not be real understanding.

 

 

 

 

 
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BUT...and this is something I believe in...if you want to build bridges, then you need to step out and seek to understand TBMs, with ALL their quircks.  The best way to get people to understand you is to try and understand those people.  Can you understand why members love the prophets and teachings?  It's so often not out of ignorance as some have suggested here.  Can you understand how members rely on the spirit, a very real experience.  Can you understand why TBMs type hit and run posts and do annoying things like bearing testimonies?  Can you understand why some TBMs, probably all at some point, have shied away from things that you have learned?  And probably most important, can you see all these differences and still respect them as people?
 

 

Wiley, thanks for your insightful post. It is quite refreshing to read your point of view.

 

I wanted to take issue with the paragraph above.

 

You DO realize, don't you, that all of us on post-mo (with the exception of Pnut) are or were mormons? Most of us once loved the prophet and teachings. Most of us did "battles of wits" using testimonies as weapons. We totally understand why some TBMs shy away from things that we've learned. Some of us shied away from ourselves for many years before we finally accepted the fact that the cognitive dissonance was destroying us like a cancer. Some of us can see all these differences and still respect TBMs as people. Some of us have a little too much anger to be able to do that, but I'd suspect that most are working toward that point. Who wants to walk around angry and resentful all the time?

 

I just found your comments a little dismissive of what some of us have been through. Most of us do understand what it is like to be standing on the other side of that chasm. For some here, we were standing there ourselves very recently.  

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pnut:

peter mary

I'm not really on either side of the canyon.  I'm not mormon and I'm not post mormon. I won't ever be either.  I have my own ideas and I'm really at peace.  I am, however, still considered "misled" by my life long friend.  While she won't outright say this to me, she has told me the reason I hadn't accepted the Mormon gospel, is that I wasn't "ready" to hear it.  This assumes she has a "truth" that I will eventually be "ready" to accept.  

pnut,

 

I think you're spot-on.  There's a different canyon that divides the faithful church member from the non-member/never-been-a-member.  It's been so long since I fell in that category, that it's harder for me to recall how I felt in relation to church members.  But the gist of your message is that the church member sees themselves in relation to the non-member in sort of a one-up position--they know, and you don't.  They're the professor, you're the student, and if you would stop your rebellious ways and just listen to them, you would become enlightened in the same manner they are. 

 

Of course, that has a very negative impact on the non-member, in much the same way as I discussed in the Postmormon world view.  It feels like the conscious, righteous, faithful, intellectual, deliberate decisions that you make are simply discounted as childish and unenlightened.  The notion that "you're not ready" suggests rebelliousness and a lack of maturity, when you know full well that you are making well thought out decisions pertaining to your spiritual life.

 

The gulf is exacerbated, however, by the same degree of surety going the other way.  Mormons have been hearing for years from their Christian counterparts that their faith is sub-par, and they are cult members who need to come in out of the dark.  Mormons, much as any other adherents to a strong faith story, feel drawn to and empowered by their faith, and are equally repelled by those who would discount and discredit their faith.  And the battle rages...

 

Thanks for the addendum to the canyon analogy, here!

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I dunno.  The Wiley post to me is a slightly repainted version of the old game the TBM's plays with 'weak-minded' investigators/apostates.

 

The game is..."Your weakness and wickedness only makes my testimony stronger, thank you."

 

Then whoever the TBM is addressing is supposed to stop all this argument and quiet down because,  "See, it does not support your convictions, it only strengthens mine". 

 

Then, the business of I checked out your so-called "facts" and I reject them.  That, too is another ploy of which I am very familiar.  No rebut, just the commentary that "your facts don't fit my convictions, therefore, I reject them"

 

Sorry, I'm not buying, Wiley.

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wiley:

It takes time to understand everyone on an individual level, and I hope to understand more as I get to know some of you better. 

 

BUT...and this is something I believe in...if you want to build bridges, then you need to step out and seek to understand TBMs, with ALL their quircks.  The best way to get people to understand you is to try and understand those people.  Can you understand why members love the prophets and teachings?  It's so often not out of ignorance as some have suggested here.  Can you understand how members rely on the spirit, a very real experience.  Can you understand why TBMs type hit and run posts and do annoying things like bearing testimonies?  Can you understand why some TBMs, probably all at some point, have shied away from things that you have learned?  And probably most important, can you see all these differences and still respect them as people? 

 

I would and have asked these same types of questions to active mormons...though in reverse.

 

Wiley, keep in mind that you're talking with former-Mormons. Some of us were died in the wool Mormons for most of our lives. ::Jeff raises his hand:: Man I believed it to the core and had a better than average understanding of it. I went on  mission -- served a two year "honorable mission," attended the temple more times than I can even imagine, was in an Elder's Quorum presidency, was Teacher's Quorum Advisor, (Cub Master for five freakin years) and I believed it all!

 

So please don't suggest that I just don't understand TBM's.

 

I agree that there needs to be understanding on both sides of any issue, but on this issue, one side has lived and experienced and believed both sides, and the other side has not. It seems that it's the Mormons who are more in need of some looking across the fence and trying to understand than are the former-Mormons.

 

 

 

 

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Wiley,

 

First, let me also say that I'm impressed that you have stuck around this long, but more so, I'm impressed that you can confess that you've learned some things here.  My hat's off to you.

 

wiley:

Two weeks ago, I came here looking to find understanding that spawned from a desire to be a better father.  Many times, I 've heard mentioned here that it is widely believed you left the church for "wicked desires".  Now it has never bothered me that people apostacize from the church.  Apostasy has always been prevelent and can be found in all the works (OT, NT, BoM, early church history, and even today).  But I'll admit that this thinking was a general belief in my mind.  But you have made me change my mind.  It was easy to see that, at least for this group, many here made the choice to leave the church based on informed decissions.  I have also discovered that there are good people here, which is why I've stayed.  I can honestly say that from things that both my wife and I have learned in the past two weeks, we have been able to see some people who leave the church in a whole new light and understanding.  We even have greater respect for some of the more famous apostates that we learn about in church history. 

This just does my heart good, because it suggests that you are trying really hard to understand, even though you know you don't agree with much of what is being said.  We woud all benefit from that level of endeavor to seek understanding.  Thank you, Wiley. 

 

However, I need to echo what Dogzilla had to say about this thought... 

wiley:

BUT...and this is something I believe in...if you want to build bridges, then you need to step out and seek to understand TBMs, with ALL their quircks.  The best way to get people to understand you is to try and understand those people.  Can you understand why members love the prophets and teachings?  It's so often not out of ignorance as some have suggested here.  Can you understand how members rely on the spirit, a very real experience.  Can you understand why TBMs type hit and run posts and do annoying things like bearing testimonies?  Can you understand why some TBMs, probably all at some point, have shied away from things that you have learned?  And probably most important, can you see all these differences and still respect them as people? 

This is one of the "understanding traps" that church members fall easily into when considering the mind-set of the people who leave the church--that perhaps we never really WERE Mormons.  We never really GOT it.  We really DON'T understand the people or the church.

 

Let me lay that to rest.  I'm speaking strictly of myself here, but this same level of experience and committment can be found over and over and over again among the people who participate here. 

 

You want me to really understand the Mormons.  Wiley, I have lived among Mormons for all of my adult life.  I married a woman who was born and raised in the church, whose family came to Utah with the Martin Handcart company.  Brigham Young himself sent my father-in-law's great grandpa to homestead and open up a part of Eastern Idaho, expanding the Mormon Corridor northward.  I have taught the gospel to youth and adults alike, in the youth Sunday School (16-17 year olds), the Gospel Essentials class, the Teacher Development Class, and Gospel Doctrine.  I have taught Elders Quorum and served in the Presidency.  I have been the Young Men's President.  I have served as the First Counselor in two Bishoprics.  I have served faithfully as a Home Teacher.  I have visited the sick and afflicted as a representative of the church in nursing homes and in their own homes.  I have laid my hands upon countless heads to offer blessings of comfort, healing, to ordain to the Priesthood, or to set apart in a calling.  I have cleaned the buildings, shoveled snow from the walks, attended scout and Father/Son campouts, participated in baptisms, baptized each of my own children.  I was sealed to my wife in the temple.  In short, I LIVED the Mormon life, Wiley.  Truly, I think it is safe to say that I KNOW the Mormons.  I not only know them, my friend, but I love them. 

 

It is that realization that causes me to believe that the bridge-building of which I speak is a greater responsibility for those who left the church, because they have an understanding that that the church members don't.  See, Wiley--I say this with all due respect, though I worry you may feel a bit of a sting--I DO know the Mormons, but the Mormons don't, and don't WANT to know me.  Not very many of them, anyhow.  You may fall into a different category, and if you do, then I am proud to call you friend.

 

wiley:

So my question is, is it odd to you that my reaction to what I have learned recently has been so different from what your reaction was?  I suspect many of you have your theories as to why.  I can say that I have my new theories as to why you left the church.   But it is up to each of us to see if either theories are true or false.  But most important, at least to me, can we respect each other despite what our theories are about each other?

Your candor in this question is most refreshing, actually.  No, I don't find it surprising.  I think we all are seeking congruence.  For many of us, we observed incongruence in the church, its teachings, its doctrines and its behaviors, and so when we researched, we found the reasons for that incongruence and it strengthened our resolve to move beyond.  Perhaps for you, you DON'T see incongruence, and so your study strengthens your testimony.  We each find what we're looking for.  It's human nature. 

 

Thank you for hanging in as long as you have in an effort to understand.  I, for one, am proud of the things you've tried to understand, and the effort you've made to participate here with us.  That makes you a rare bird indeed...

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Postette:

The whole concept of having "theories" about why I left the church bothers me. In my mind that means you are theorizing rather than listening and believing that I speak honestly about why I left.  I left because I could not accept the difference between what I was taught and what I found the facts to be. Once I found out the facts, the rest went down like dominoes. 

 The idea that you need to theorize why I took the step to leave implies that you think I am somehow being dishonest with you or myself.

Every now and again, someone says something, and I just sit back and think, "yeah...that's it.  That's how I feel, but I didn't know how to put it in words."  You just did that, Postette. 

 

Mormons having "theories" about why I left continues to be evidence that they don't believe me when I say, "I know what the hell I'm doing!"  What this discussion has done is validate my "reason 'a'" in the original post, namely that something must be amiss in our lives, else why would we leave?  Even if in Wiley's case he might not think those reasons are for evil or nefarious purposes, still, our OWN testimony regarding our reasons is somehow inadequate...i.e., "we don't know the real reasons," and the real reasons can ony be understood in the context of the gospel and our inability or unwillingness to live and accept it.

 

Thank you, Postette.

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Wiley, you seem like a geat guy, and I for one (among many here) am glad you showed up to talk about some of theses things. Vey interesting and insightful post.

 

Fist, let me say that it has always been my position that people have to do whatever it is that makes them happy in their lives. If that's Mormonism, and all it's nine zillion doctines, then more power to you. If it's Islam, or Buddha, or Church of the Frisbeen, don't let me stand in  the way. I only wish that folks would be informed of some of the more contoversial facts in LDS history and doctrine before they sign on the dotted line and get dunked. I honestly believe the church greatly fails its new converts in that respect.

 

That said, once you have all the facts, as you clearly do, and Mormonism still works for you, then Onward Christian Soldier. Knock yourself out. Whether you honestly and deeply believe these things, perhaps taking the apologetic approach to controversy, or if it's that the church lifestyle suits you and the troublesome doctrines just don't matter, is immaterial. If you're an "informed" happy, then The Crime Dog is happy.

 

Be that as it may, I'm reminded of a favorite catch phrase from one of my favorite TV shows, Mythbusters. It seems to me to be the only way that a well-informed Mormon can retain his belief in the truthfulness of the LDS Church:

 

I reject your reality, and subsitute my own.

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Born Free:

It seems to me that when we interact with them and get angry, we are projecting parts of ourselves and giving our power over to them. But in looking inward, in seeing which of our buttons they can press, we get valuable insight into our own pathways to growth and healing.

I know this is true for me, and I often suck at the "looking inward" part.  But I believe you are absolutely correct, that when we find our buttons have been pushed, it behooves us to look inward and try to discover WHY we even have that button in the first place.  It has, in fact, been my personal experience that when I am triggered, it is because I have not fully resolved my own insecurities and thinking in that area.  The more settled and confident I become, the less likely I am to trigger.  Eventually, those buttons aren't there to push any longer... 

 

That makes me go back and rethink our humour here. I know from men's work that sometimes men use humour to separate from and deny their vulnerability, and to the extent they do that, that are uncentred. That does not mean that there is no place for humour, but it can clearly be overdone. 

 

Daryl 

This also is probably insightful.  I think humor is often a mechanism for deflecting the anger we feel.  However, given how healthy I feel when I burst out laughing when I hang out here, I would be a sad, sad puppy indeed if people stopped being silly, even if it IS a defense mechanism!  Still, the insight may be a very important one, and we would be wise to understand why we do what we do...

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peter_mary:

Mormons have been hearing for years from their Christian counterparts that their faith is sub-par, and they are cult members who need to come in out of the dark. 

 

Most of the social scientists, psychologists and psychiatrists who study "social cult phenomenon" in society or treat people who have been suffered from the oppressive aspects of them are not Christians.  The majority of the "ligitimate scholars (PhD's) come from a variety of backgrounds and a majority are intellectual athiests and non-god believers.  Many are also of Jewish descent.  There are "christian" writers with agendas who do also make such claims, but the most respected heavy hitters and serious scholars who are considered experts of cult phenomenon are not "christian" with an anti-mormon agenda.   Rather, they study such groups and develop ways to understand them, determine how such groups can be destructive to people and how such groups can lead people down the road to potential atrocities against humanity and their own members.  They also help families and post group members deal with a large range of problems exsisting from involvement in such groups.  There are all different aspects to this field of study and the ligitimate scholarly approaches to study and treatment does not and should not involve a desire to slam such groups. Most of those experts have developed models so groups can be classified by common characterists and study on how group sociology and human psychology plays into the group control aspect of each one and understanding occurs.  Most of these experts speak of "benign" groups and that not all members of social control groups need to be "resuced" if  the group actually does not harm them and serves a purpose in their lives. 

 

I do understand what you're saying in that Mormons feel that Christians call their religion a cult group as a way to persecute their beliefs.  However, ligitimate scholars who study social groups do not develop their models and definitions for what constitutues a "social control group" or "cult" not based on an anti-Mormon agenda or to persecute groups or religions.  The fact is that some social control groups can evolve into serious societal menaces and can present a realistic danger to greater society. (One such example specific to Mormonism was the Mountain Meadows Massacre.)  They see such social phenomenon as a silent societal menace with great potential for harm. There is great power in collective mind control. I'm not saying Mormonism is one such group at all, but social scientists, in particular feel that such groups CAN pose a realistic threat to humanity.  In studying how these groups function, the intellectual world can identify such hidden menaces and have important discussions, bringing to light potential ill effects such groups can have on members or the society at large. 

 

I can't remember which sociologist I explained his reasons for "why study cults?" if your aim is not to discredit such systems that some people ligitimately wish to belong?  (I'll try to remember who wrote this, but this is from memory right now.)  They basically stated the motivation behind this field of study to that of the motivation behind such groups as "Amnesty International" whose goal is to combat the unfair imprisonment and mistreatment of political prisoners all over the world.  The study and understanding of "cults" and "social control groups" is necessary so to protect and aid those people who have become prisoners in such systems and find they are powerless against systems which basically kidnap the minds of people and take away basic human rights to freedom of thought as well as act as a protection for society against group thought control and potential serious harms to the greater society.

 

To insinuate that groups such the Mormons are classified as a "cult" is only done to discredit and persecute them isn't entirely true.  There are many reasons for independent scholars to make such assumptions, which are important and ligitimate.  One can find many examples here in the post mormon stories which speak to such negative effects such groups can have on people.  Most sociologists hope their area of study and scholarly exchange of their understanding of how social control goups and ideologies fuction can lead to the prevention of ever having to ever see another Holocaust again.

 

 
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pnut:

Most of the social scientists, psychologists and psychiatrists who study "social cult phenomenon" in society or treat people who have been suffered from the oppressive aspects of them are not Christians.  The majority of the "ligitimate scholars (PhD's) come from a variety of backgrounds and a majority are intellectual athiests and non-god believers.  Many are also of Jewish descent.  There are "christian" writers with agendas who do also make such claims, but the most respected heavy hitters and serious scholars who are considered experts of cult phenomenon are not "christian" with an anti-mormon agenda.  

I would also argue, however, that most Christians who make the claim for Mormonism being a "cult" are parroting what they've heard, rather than having investigated it themselves.

 

Regardless, that isn't the point.  The point was only that Mormons are equally as tired of being told by other Christian sects that their belief system is a non-credible one.  For instance, the Southern Baptists and many evangelicals have been very clear that Mormonism is a blight on the religious landscape, and they set about to "save" their Mormon neighbors.  From the outside looking in, what it looks like to me is one cult saying to another, "leave yours and join mine.  Yours is false, mine is right."  It's the same game.  Arrogance goes both ways, and just as the non-Mormons are right to feel belittled and minimized by their Mormon neighbors (when it happens), so, too are the Mormons right to feel belittled and minimized by their Christian neighbors who are telling them that they are wrong! 

 

Ultimately, it's the exact same game...

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Hey folks,

 

Flotsam here.

 

It's been a while. I've been off having adventures. I no longer live in Alaska. I live in a tiny town in Wyoming.

 

Peter_Mary invited me to come back to the fold today and post a comment or two on the thread here.

 

First, I am the guy who wrote the blog post PM refers to. It can be found at:

 

http://sunstoneblog.com/?p=218 

 

I'd love to have the Post Mormon community weigh in on this post since you're kind of the people I'm talking about.

 

Second: I taught a lesson in Elder's Quorum yesterday. It was about forgiveness. The basic idea I was trying to get across (and for the most part it seemed to work) is that forgivness isn't necessarily something that someone on higher ground grants to someone on lower ground, rather it's an expanding of our own awareness of other people.

 

When I asked the class to talk about why one finds oneself needing to forgive someone they said things like, "misunderstanding,"  "argument," and finally, "judgment."

 

They played right into me hands, bwah ha ha!

 

Judgment is EXACTLY what leads to miscommunication and therefore to misunderstanding and therefore to grudges. But as you'll probably figure out if you think about the last few conversations you've had, our first instinct is always to judge. Most conversations are started with a judgment: "I didn't like Happy Feet, did you?"

 

During the lesson I relied heavily on some quotes from the psychotherapist Carl Rogers (very famous back in the 60s) where he says that understanding WITH a person rather than understanding ABOUT them is the surest way to authentic communication. Even more interesting, he says that understanding with a person is the most potent method he knows of to instigate change in a person.

 

Somehow, when a person feels as thought he/she is understood and NOT JUDGED, he/she opens him/herself, thus allowing ideas and emotions more room to move in and out.

 

I brought up Hegel's idea that history is made up of opposing forces that come into conflict. But the result of their conflict is not that one or the other wins, but that, between them, they make something new.

 

One guy (the EQ president) said that such wasn't true when it came to the absolute truths of the gospel. I asked him to give me examples, but he couldn't come up with any. I think that's because, really, absolute truths aren't apprehendable to our minds. We're always dealing with them through metaphors, and metaphors are certainly subject to change, reinterpretation and Hegel's dialectic.

 

The end of class was really interesting, a couple of guys actually stood around and talked about how you never know what the story is behind someone's actions, behind someone's beliefs. I couldn't agree more. That's exactly the reason why I'm always trying to hear about people's stories. I've found that life is dull and hard when I'm judging, but when I'm listening to people's stories, things are always interesting. Mainly because, as I understand with a person I find that I go through changes myself. Enlargening changes. It's certainly scary to find yourself challenged by someone's story, and I know that those who hold tightly to definite interpretations of life are probably the most scared of the changes that can come about in you when you are understanding with a person.

 

But, if you think about the story of Jesus in Gethsemane, that's kind of what did. He was walking the life path of each person, understanding with them. When the Roman soldiers nailed him up, he could in fact ask god to forgive them because he he had lived them. He understood their lives. And, really, 99 percent of people in the world try to do the right thing.

 

So, to me, forgiveness is code for expanding your understanding of other people, for realizing that most of the conflict in life is between good and good. 

 

I'm certain that the good/good conflict is what's going on when TBMs and PostMos have conversations. I tend to think that people who have extracted themselves from a belief system have had more practice at investigating other points of view, therefore, I think PostMos should be on the forefront of understanding with their TBM families and friends, so that the TBMs can follow suite.

 

However, in my Sunstone post I tell the Mormons that they should be the ones understanding with the PostMos. 

 

I like to contradict myself. 

 
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Wiley,

As pointed out most of us here have been in your shoes and understand where you are truly coming from. I think you would find that many of us still embrace the good aspects of the church such as commitment to family and community and embracing a healthy life style. For myself I've served in the bishopric, elder's quorum presidency and taught the elders quorum. I've received the burning of the bosom and feelings of exuberance as I so much wanted the church to be true to marry the woman I was dating, this much like your desiring to be a good father. But how are we to determine whether this experience/testimony we are told is from the Holy Ghost and a true spiritual experience or simply a psychological or emotional appeal? Certainly wanting to be a good father and families forever are psychological or emotional appeals. If it makes sense I can respect a good Mormon, but not some of their beliefs. What makes it difficult is when they are engaging in beliefs (doctrines) that harm others i.e. bigotry.

A few more questions:

How important do you feel about the following statement in regard to obtaining understanding? "That loving one's neighbor begins with giving up the claim to have special access to the truth".

 

In your search for truth how important is ‘evidence based reasoning' to you, as opposed to blind faith and feelings? The reason I ask is it appears to me your major in school embracing the scientific method is at odds with your religious beliefs. For example: you should have learned the importance of a theory being "falsifiable". (It must be possible to conceive of evidence that would prove a claim wrong) How do you reconcile between viewing through the lens of the scientific method being an evidence based driven enterprise and your religion advocating blind faith?

In an effort to retain respect I think it's about time that you attempt to answer some difficult questions.

SoUtSkeptic

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::hugs Flotsam::

We've missed you, man!  Welcome back!  I think it's time for another party at my house.  Maybe sometime this summer, OK?

Anyway, I appreciate you weighing in on this thread.  I still need to read through it more carefully, which I haven't done.  It would be nice to have your comments on Amberale's thread:  http://www.postmormon.org/exp_e/index.php/discussions/viewthread/734/

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peter_mary: Arrogance goes both ways, and just as the non-Mormons are right to feel belittled and minimized by their Mormon neighbors (when it happens), so, too are the Mormons right to feel belittled and minimized by their Christian neighbors who are telling them that they are wrong! 

 

In all the years of my friendship with my TBM friend, I have never even said word one about my own beliefs, how they do not match with hers or how I understand there are differences.  I have listened to all kind of varieties of ways of her telling me that I am wrong and that it is ultimately "my fault" for not being ready to accept the "truth".  I believe that is what causes the chasm between both Mormons and the world of those who are not "ready" or "willing" to accept their "truth" and it is the "only truth" according to god. 

 

I would have never uttered a word about the Mormon faith to our friend, if he hadn't called us desparate and angry and ready to leave behind his whole dang family.  When he joined the church I didn't really give it a thought.  I thought that made sense for his marriage and family.  I was not the mindset, "Wow... that guy has been tricked, deceived or misled."  I felt like he freely chose to become Mormon.  What I heard from him was a very disturbing tale of a co-worker he had never met spying on him at work about coffee consumption and showing up at his desk to confront him.  Having this reported to his bishop and more controntation by that guy.  Then immediate visit to him by the missionaries, home teachers and they all knew about his coffee consumption and brought it up and was admonished about the seriousness of keeping the D&C's.  By hearing of his total frustration of being socially reprimanded and forced to conform, I began to see that the LDS faith was truly engaging in some socially stifling behavior against members.  Of course, him leaving the church was not met with anything "nice" or "respectful" and that too makes me cringe. 

 

Do I cringe because I think the church is based on incorrect doctrines? I believe we see things differently.  Do I think they're "wrong" because I was raised a certain way and they're following a different belief system?  No, I could be wrong, they could be wrong.  I believe there is no sure thing as "pure truth" other than believing in "pure love" and I attempt earnestly to steer my life with this goal first in my mind. I cringe because of the experiences he shared with us and that she has shared over a lifetime that has caused considerable depression, frustration, guilt and pain and it certainly appears the system of Mormonism does supress people from thinking freely and making independent choices and following those paths without stigma seems rare at best.  In her words to her husband, "following any different religious conclusion after accepting the Mormon gospel is a choice worse than death". I don't think the beliefs are so terrible, but what the system is doing to real members I know and who are suffering and living with those harmful aspects of that particular church.  It makes you say, "Hey, there is seriously something harmful when people are not allowed to think for themselves and make their own choices without serious judgement."

 

I hope you all understand that I totally agree that persecuting people because their beliefs are not like your own is wrong. I hope if I've shown any such behavior that I would be called on it and I am totally sorry if I have made anyone here feel that way.  (Perhaps you are calling me on this in your response Peter Mary.)  Kidnapping people from one cult to another is not any sort of an admirable solution for people and arrogance does go both ways.  It is all based on similar conclusions and arrogant beliefs.  The only thing I truly believe is that people should be able to freely choose what they may and follow those ideas without stigma or judgement.  Based on my knowledge of Mormonsim, there isn't much room for independent conclusions, unless they affirm "the truth" they claim.  I feel that people should be set free if they choose or if they discover, like Wiley, that new information just solidifies his beliefs, then he already is free in his pursuit.   I do wonder what his experience would be like if his conclusions didn't actually affirm Mormonism. 

 

OH well, I ramble.  My apologies.  

 
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flotsam:

Hey folks,

 

 

During the lesson I relied heavily on some quotes from the psychotherapist Carl Rogers (very famous back in the 60s) where he says that understanding WITH a person rather than understanding ABOUT them is the surest way to authentic communication. Even more interesting, he says that understanding with a person is the most potent method he knows of to instigate change in a person.

 

Somehow, when a person feels as thought he/she is understood and NOT JUDGED, he/she opens him/herself, thus allowing ideas and emotions more room to move in and out.

 

It's always good to hear from flotsam!  Thanks for weighing in.

 

I think your idea here spot on.  Rogerian theory in counseling is all about empathy, i.e. being able to see the situation from the client's point of view, and not just your own.  That's exacty what I'm trying to do with this thread...explore the canyon that divides from a place of empathy--for BOTH sides.

 

In another thread, I mentioned the importance of being a place worth building a bridge to.  Empathic understanding is the key.  Note that empathy is not the same as sympathy.  Sympathy implies agreement.  Empathy means "I see how you see." 

 

Excellent thoughts, my friend...

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flotsam:

I like to contradict myself. 

 

Good to see you post again! With regard to Hegelian philosophy, does contradicting yourself -- thesis and antithesis -- work to the point of bringing about a synthesis too?

 

............... I'm just kidding.

 

 

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Hey PM, this is a really good topic, and good timing for me.

 

Some of you may recall I had a major rift with my parents several years ago.  When posting here last year, I was trying to figure out how to mend that rift.  

 

Last summer, I suggested to them we try family counseling, with a therapist of my choice.  Luckily, I chose a VERY good therapist, who happens to be aware of cult-dynamics.  He is very neutral, objective, and offers helpful suggestions to each of us to get to the heart of matters, to remain objective, and to use non-judgemental language when talking to each other.

 

Add to this the fact that my parents have always had interesting views, and are willing to bend their perspectives a little.  They are highly motivated, since their love for me and my son seems to be higher than their need to cling to Church Dogma, I've watched their cog dis resolve into more open-minded-leaning ways.

 

Our last meeting was rather interesting.  My mother told me she had been praying to understand something (I don't remember what particularly -- why I left the Church, or some other topic), and the spirit told her there is a difference between knowledge and understanding.  And that we're judged on our understanding.

 

Then she told me that I KNEW a lot about Church Doctrine, but never had an understanding.  And that's why I left.

 

We're far enough along in the process that I was able to just think to myself, "I'll have to agree to disagree with her on that", and I think I even told her out loud.  The therapist then jumped in, and contrasted an earlier conversation we'd had that morning, where we respectfully debated some point, to my mom's statement that I just never had understood.  He gently called her on the carpet, that it was a little presuming, and that if we could keep having non-judgemental, objective discussions which were respectful of each other's beliefs, we'd continue to do fine.

 

Anyway, PM, your post was well timed, given that.  My parents have come a long way in trying to understand my perspective and in not being judgemental (in my presence anyway -- who knows what they're thinking or how they talk to others? I don't know!)  In doing that, they've made ME feel more comfortable with trying to understand -- to REMEMBER -- their position, and be a little more forgiving and tolerent of where they currently are.

 

I'm a lot more tolerent of other's beliefs if those beliefs don't motivate problems for ME.  If my parents' beliefs motivate them to repeatedly cross boundries and disrespect me, then I'm far more likely to be intolerent of them.  If their beliefs don't really affect me in any real way, I'm likely to be more tolerent.

 

The level of hurt it causes them is also a factor in how tolerent I am.  My parents?  Shrug.  They're old.  They've lived their life.  They're also showing more open-mindedness and flexibility.  And they're respecting my bounries more now, thanks to our sessions.  I'm having less trouble with that, than I am with my young nieces and nephews who are high-school and college age, making life choices which will be difficult to undo should they change their minds later.  Like missions, marriages, having children, etc.  I feel more emotionally entangled with them, more sad, more wishing they will find their way out SOON.

 

It would also be nice to have just one family member who truly understands my side, just like you all do.  Someone who knows what it's like to be post-mo.  It's lonely, ya know?

 

Luna 

 

 

 

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Luna,

 

Since we are familiar with your story, it's so good to hear that you feel like you're making progress healing the rift!  Congratulations on doing "the hard stuff."  I thought your post was particularly validating, however, of this thread.  This in particular jumped out at me...

 

lunaverse:

 

Our last meeting was rather interesting.  My mother told me she had been praying to understand something (I don't remember what particularly -- why I left the Church, or some other topic), and the spirit told her there is a difference between knowledge and understanding.  And that we're judged on our understanding.

 

Then she told me that I KNEW a lot about Church Doctrine, but never had an understanding.  And that's why I left.

This was exactly Postette's point in her response to Wiley, way up there further in this thread.  It simply creates too much cognitive dissonance in the mind of the believer to allow you the space to explore truth outside of their belief system.  There has to a be "a theory", and it has to cast you in a "less enlightened" light.  In this case, you "don't understand," which is a minimizing statement. 

 

::hugs luna::

 

lunaverse:

I'm a lot more tolerent of other's beliefs if those beliefs don't motivate problems for ME.  If my parents' beliefs motivate them to repeatedly cross boundries and disrespect me, then I'm far more likely to be intolerent of them.  If their beliefs don't really affect me in any real way, I'm likely to be more tolerent.

 

The level of hurt it causes them is also a factor in how tolerent I am.  Luna 

Tolerance is probably the best many of us can hope for in our interactions with our Mormon family members.  Understanding is simply not possible, because real empathy from their side might be too much of a stretch.  Tolerance implies "judgement, but with a truce."  You would no doubt be grateful for tolerance from your parents, but probably know that real understanding might just be asking for too much.

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Flotsam,

First there needs to be dialog. I think many of us really appreciate wiley's courage for engaging us. I like your thoughts of "understanding WITH a person rather than understanding ABOUT them is the surest way to authentic communication. Let's say we are able to overcome much of the "conditioning" that creates our biases, so we turn from a judgmental mode and even start to question our own conclusions; in doing so hopefully both sides are able to come up with something new. Could you please give me an example of what this ‘something new' might be in regard to addressing the problem of ‘bigotry' in church. (psst Pres Hinckley we need another revelation) Where one side feels its position is justified by revelation and scripture and the other side see's the harm it causes and see's no creditable evidence provided by the opposing canyon. Is there any other solution other than bigotry has got to cease? In light of the world we live in today I have to question if Carl Rogers thoughts contain a lot of wishful thinking. For example: how about we incorporate psychotherapist Carl Rogers thoughts in solving the Israeli-Palestinean Conflict? My contention is I don't think we can completely throw away the judge. We need a judge that is completely independent and non biased as possible.  In my humble opinion the judge/decider should include peer review, empirical evidence and reason. As an example: Look how views have now changed toward Global warming. (hypothesis guides but evidence decides.) Yet if any TBM were to buy into my proposal they would be going against the church and the prophet.

Don't get me wrong, yours and P_M thread does a great job of presenting the views which need to be addressed for movement toward bridge building and especially the thread provides a stopping moment for all of us to questions our own conclusions. I just simply do not see what is being proposed as a solution to be all that simple or even possible.

Pardon my skepticism- An aspect of critical thinking perhaps is being a bit judgmental-

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Luna, read your post with great interest.  Good to hear that things are moving along on the family front.

 

Kindest regards

Mary

 

PS (Great to see Flotsam over here.  I've missed his posts too)

 

 

 
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Thanks Peter Mary, and Mary. :)

 

Luna 

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What? Did you think I wasn't going to chime in?     Fuhgettaboutit you wascally postmo's.

 

 

 

Flotsam great to hear from you again. Glad you are back from the Great White North and hope all is well with your family unit.  Enjoyed your post and just plain ole good to connect again my brother.

 

 

This was a great thread. Leave it to PM to bring one home for the gang.

 

My thoughts.

 

 

First. Wiley hat's off to you my friend. And blessings on you and your wife and soon to be daughter. What I want most for the three of you is happiness. If it is in Mormonism, then rock on. I am in the camp of Crime Dog here. But know this. Mormonism does not work for many of us any longer. Free Thinker is much happier now that he has left it behind, and I mean all of it, doctrinally. I am an atheist now and my life is better.

 

 

Second. To everyone else I absolutely loved reading your posts. I was completely enthralled. I could not move from the screen. I love being around you all. You have made my life so much richer. Who loves ya dudes and dudetts??  

 

ft

 

 

 

 

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The whole concept of having "theories" about why I left the church bothers me. In my mind that means you are theorizing rather than listening and believing that I speak honestly about why I left.  I left because I could not accept the difference between what I was taught and what I found the facts to be. Once I found out the facts, the rest went down like dominoes. 

 The idea that you need to theorize why I took the step to leave implies that you think I am somehow being dishonest with you or myself.

For me the basis for honest discussion begins with both parties speaking and accepting the truth.  If we judge each other's statements based on a "theory" we have about the reasons behind the post then there will not be real understanding.

I am a scientist, so words like "theory" are ingrained in my head.  Let me rephrase "theories" to "guesses" or "ideas" or "hypothesis" if you want to get technical.  Actually they are really questions that start with words like "Is this why..." and "I wonder if...". These are not conclusions.  Never said anything about conclusions.  Just because I have a "theory" doesn't mean I think it right.  It's up to me to decide if I find the theory true or false, in which case I come up with a new theory.  You just have to understand that this is how my mind works, so please don't be threatened.   Postette, I do not think you are being dishonest with anyone. 

Pnut- The reason I relate to you more is because I grew up with people of other beliefs, Christian or otherwise.  My best friend just got baptised into a christian church at 26ish.  Actually some years ago, but I was there in full support.  I was quite happy to see his baptism because when I lived with him, he was of the I-just-want-to-leave-my-seed-whereever-I-go type (his words not mine).  But he has always been my good friend as have many of my non-mormon friends.  Just so you understand where I'm coming from. 

Pnut:

 Do you have any theories as to why I reject "your truth" as "my truth"? (And I don't mean, speak for the church, but rather speak for your own thoughts.)

 

No, I don't know you enough.

 

Pnut:

Is it possible for anyone to conclude that the Mormon beliefs are not true? 

 

Of course

 

Pnut:

Is the only "right choice" to make is to accept the LDS gospel?

 

Depends on what you're talking about.  In some regards, yes I believe the LDS church to be the only "true church".  But that is my belief and I am still working on trying to understand why it is such a big deal to others that I believe that.  But no I don't think it wrong to be of another faith.  My best friend is a prime example.  And no, I don't think the LDS gospel is the only "right choice" when trying to be a good person, raise a good family, and have a good life, or follow in Christ's footsteps for that matter.

 

Pnut:

Does rejecting them mean you are "misled", "not ready to accept the gospel" or "deceived"?    

 

There are so many reasons for not accepting the church.  Certainly these can apply to some.  But the concept of being "mislead" is of interest to me here.  As I've been reading all of these posts, I read things that I just do not see (men controlling wives in the church; JS being a pedifile, adulterer, liar, and such; Hinkley not having a testimony of the gospel).  Even some of the things you have written make me think...where is she getting this information, because the puzzle piece just does not fit in my mind.  But I am still working on understanding.  I am not saying anyone here is lying or not being honest in general.  It's just that when people speak harshly of men and women I revere, I have to wonder what is real and what is gossip.  I hate to use that word, but in my mind FOR NOW, that is how I see some comments.  How else would you expect me to act? 

 

So to reitterate, I am not accusing anyone of lying, not being honest, not taking facts seriously, intentionally misleading others, etc.  I'm not sure why people keep thinking that that is what I'm doing here?  I've certainly never said it.  Just keep giving me a chance to understand the feelings that are here.

 

On that note, I completely agree with P_M and flotsam (I knew there were others mormons out their like me) about understanding, communication, and building bridges.  They just say it better than I could.

 

I haven't forgotten that you guys are post mormons, and some of you were very into the church....Jeff, P_M, skeptic, Crime Dog (I think)... I know I'm leaving people out, but moving on.   But I do read a lot of posts that paint the standard mormon in a light that I know I'm not (and I know I'm not the only one), so it makes me wonder if some here really do understand the active mormon point of view.  Not making any accusations here; just still working to understand.  So all my "Do you understand..." questions was directed to many, but not all.  Not a fault for being mormon, only being new at forum discussions.  It's hard to speak to everyone here because, though many (I guess all really) are post mormons here, each of you are still different.  That is from my point of view as being a type of outsider here. 

 

YesIAmAPyr8:

Then, the business of I checked out your so-called "facts" and I reject them.  That, too is another ploy of which I am very familiar.  No rebut, just the commentary that "your facts don't fit my convictions, therefore, I reject them"

 

Sorry, I'm not buying, Wiley.

 

I'm not selling.  It doesn't bother me that you are not interested in the church.  I'm not trying to "bring you back into the fold".  I'm not here for you at all.  I'm here for me, for me and my soon-to-be daughter.   And I'm not even close to being done in checking out the facts.  I've only begun to learn.  I've still got a long ways to go.  But can you accept me for my beliefs?  Because I don't have any problems with you.  I'm with Crime Dog on this one.  I don't care what you believe or don't believe.  And I have no problems with being friends with people in your shoes.  OK, maybe I shouldn't say "don't care".  I am interested in your opinions on topics, but you get my point.

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wiley

I'm trying to comprehend your point about your "seed spreading friend" who became a baptized Christian.  You supported his baptism and was pleased for him for finding his truth.  I take it to mean that you do support others to choose what fits them.  I find it interesting you bring up his prior life to his becoming a Christian.  What do you mean by this?  Curious?

 

Perhaps we can relate to each other Wiley.  My TBM best friend went off to Rick's College (BYU Idaho now) and she came home each summer with stories of her and her roommates (and male classmates) driving miles away to go to an out of town bowling alley to get drunk on Scorpion bowls all night.  They'd check into local motels to have some "seed spreading" themselves and leaving for the dorms in time to sneak back in at night to create the appearance of being tucked safely in their beds all night when morning came.  They were all suffering from gigantic hangovers in the morning, all winking at each other and swearing secrecy.  They were really just acting a lot more like "normal college kids" and a lot less like "saints".  I don't think of them as any less, just the same as most people, but sometimes being "normal" is done in secret, escpecially when it comes to that much pressure on LDS teens and college kids.

 

Maybe that what makes me feel assured that Mormon people are NO different than anyone else.  We're really all the same, making the same mistakes, being human in the same ways, trying our best to do good and make the best choices to be good parents to our children.  I'm not trying to make up anything, I'm just sharing my never been LDS perspective, as I've seen from a very close-up perspective, but that's just my little world.  Those are just my close friends in my small home town.  Those are just from my 35 years close to that world.  That doesn't assume that it is like this for everyone, just as I see it. 

 

What makes the Mormons different is the "Saint" part.  Being a "Saint" according to your adoption of beliefs puts you in a "higher" category than others who do not accept the beliefs.  I've seen the good and the bad of being a saint from outside the bubble.  Because I'm an "outsider" LDS friends have shared with me a perspective they would NOT feel they could with anyone inside the church.  I've heard it from my neices, nephew and friends.  I believe that there are two separate identities that many followers have, the "saint" that they show at church and amongst fellow members, family members and the faithful.  The other persona is described by my best friend as "the real me".  She and others have said, "You know the "real me" and you're the only one who knows her." 

 

I think if we knew each other in real life Wiley, I think we'd get along just fine.  I would predict a respectful friendship.  I think you're a very fine person.

 
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wiley

I'm trying to comprehend your point about your "seed spreading friend" who became a baptized Christian.  You supported his baptism and was pleased for him for finding his truth.  I take it to mean that you do support others to choose what fits them.  I find it interesting you bring up his prior life to his becoming a Christian.  What do you mean by this?  Curious?

 

I suppose I was trying to show that I can accept and be friends with people who don't have the same standards or beliefs as me.  While I wasn't the greatest mormon growing up, I did have some standards.  And though I considered my best friend's actions to be questionable in my book, he was still my best friend and we lived together during highschool.  I not only accepted him, but I gained much from him.  Likewise he knew I was mormon, and even though I was not a great mormon, he respected me.  This was not the only relationship I had that was like this, but he was certainly one of my greatest.  Sadly, I have since lost track of him.  Such is the life of a military brat. 

 

 

I don't think of them as any less, just the same as most people, but sometimes being "normal" is done in secret, escpecially when it comes to that much pressure on LDS teens and college kids.

 

Maybe that what makes me feel assured that Mormon people are NO different than anyone else.  We're really all the same, making the same mistakes, being human in the same ways, trying our best to do good and make the best choices to be good parents to our children. 

 

YES-this is exactly what I want .  No, we are not different.  Yes, we make huge mistakes.  We learn and we grow.  Yes, people can try to hide it.  But they're people.  I didn't exactly confess everything I did to my parents.  Oh they think they know, but they have no idea.

 

What makes the Mormons different is the "Saint" part.  Being a "Saint" according to your adoption of beliefs puts you in a "higher" category than others who do not accept the beliefs.  I've seen the good and the bad of being a saint from outside the bubble.  Because I'm an "outsider" LDS friends have shared with me a perspective they would NOT feel they could with anyone inside the church.  I've heard it from my neices, nephew and friends.  I believe that there are two separate identities that many followers have, the "saint" that they show at church and amongst fellow members, family members and the faithful.  The other persona is described by my best friend as "the real me".  She and others have said, "You know the "real me" and you're the only one who knows her." 

 

I don't see me or any of us being different because we are Latter-Day Saints.  I don't think the perception is the same as those of Catholics or Christians (non-catholic) Saints.  I don't know if that is what you meant.  Yes, I suppose many show a different identity while in church.  But I don't hold it against them.  I know they all have faults, because I have faults.  But I also know many of them are continually working to be better, which for most takes longer than a lifetime.  I know because this is how I am, and when we talk of such things to each other, we can see the understanding.  Personally, it is none of my business what their weaknesses are.  So I am content to let them show their different identity.  I don't think they should show an alternate identity.  I don't like to.  And I don't care what other people think about me.  I know who I am and I'm not afraid to share it.  I have told many in my ward of my previous marriage and other weaknesses.  If they have a problem with it, it's their problem.  I also tend to be attracted to people who are not afraid to show their weaknesses and differences.  With my mopy hair and scruffy face, which I do on purpose, I don't exactly look like the well groomed mormon.  But I do like to look tight (sharp) in a well pressed outfit when going to church.  I might say that I have excellent taste in color matching with my ties and shirts as I walk into church with my 70's shades.  My wife thinks I'm hot.  Ok, you can strike those last comments from the record, because I'm just wandering now. 

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wiley:

BUT...and this is something I believe in...if you want to build bridges, then you need to step out and seek to understand TBMs, with ALL their quircks.  The best way to get people to understand you is to try and understand those people.  Can you understand why members love the prophets and teachings? 

 

Wiley,

 

perhaps what you do not realize, is that many of us were in that exact position. I loved the church. I performed all my duties. I enjoyed working in the temple. Yes, I had some bad experiences in the church but I cropped it up to the people not being perfect even though the church was. And then I found some things out that made me delve even deeper which resulted in me resigning my membership. I found out the church was not perfect and the leaders far from the Men of God that I thought them to be. 

 

If you found out your spouse had been lying to you for years and was not faithful to you and did not have your interests in mind, only her own. What would you do?

 

Its the same situation with the Church as least in my respect.

 

Now, if the church works for you, great! But just because it works for you does not mean it is God's one and only true church on the face of the planet.

 

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Grape Nephi:

Now, if the church works for you, great! But just because it works for you does not mean it is God's one and only true church on the face of the planet.

Nephi & Wiley,

 

Here's the difficult part I believe.  I believe that Mormons, Non-Mormons and post Mormons struggle with this whole idea of the church being exclusively superior in having the "truth" and the "only truth".  That's exactly why I do not ascribe to Christian denominations which teach such exclusivity.  The church I was raised in has in their "statement of belief" that they recognize other paths to god with deep respect and claim no exclusivity to god.  I believe people here have called "foul" on this being a true Christian faith, but that's also a judgement and opinion.  In another thread, you see Invisible Man defending the church at the same time claiming he's open minded to the possibility that the church might be true because no one has proven it to not be true.  I think this is the only truthful claim any one person can make about faith, as claiming "pure truth" automatically categorizes you as being "more enlightened than others" and also makes the statement, "if we have exclusive truth, all other religions are abominations to god and all are in error."  Didn't Joseph Smith say that this that "all religions are abominations to god" wiley?  Are you comfortable with the words of your phrophet and do you ascribe to such teachings?

 

Wiley,

Saints are not applicable to most protestant sects, but maybe the episcopal church, but don't quote me on that one.  We don't pray to saints so that's not a part of protestantism. In any case, I was trying to point to the "saints" in the latter days, that your church claims its members to be upon baptism and membership in the LDS church.  Do you not agree that your faith teaches that your status on this earth as believers in the "only true chruch", puts you in the "saint" on earth category, as the name also claims?  The point I was trying to make is that you seem to make the comparison of your friend's "seed spreading" behavior to make some point and compare that to your more "moral" behavior.  I am saying that my "protestatnt" behavior could actually be seen as more "moral" than that of my TBM's behavior and she has "saint" status by virtue of her religion.  I don't think morality comes from association with a group that claims exclusivity in god's eyes.  I'm not even sure morality stems from much more than family example and that can be good or bad no matter the religion or absense of religion. 

 

Here's an example of such assumptions made by my friend.  One of her bosses is a Bishop of a ward in a nearby town.  When she was going through Radiation, she was exhausted and very burned. So, she had a lot of pain and trouble getting up in the morning and getting to work on time.  The bishop actually gave her a very hard time about coming in late and told her that "he had cancer in his 30's and the treatments never caused him any ill effects and so he could not understand why she was feeling so tired, making her late for work."  She was so mad and upset over being told her pain and exhaustion just wasn't true that she told me about it.  After she told me this, she said, "And he should know better.  He's a bishop."  I told her just because he was a bishop, he was still a man capable of making mistakes and treating people unfairly.  She said, "NO, he is not supposed to be able to act in such ways.  He is "special" in that he is operating under special blessings from the lord." 

 

Do you agree that men who hold the priesthood and positions of bishop are operating in some type of "more enlightened state" of have been bestowed special powers by god for their authority position?  Here is an example of how a member can believe that another person, with special powers or special blessings operates in a more "righteous or godly" manner.   The whole idea that a religious affiliation makes you hold "more truth" than anyone else brings with it this ideas of people functioning on a higher plane of morality.  You can hear this in the statement "The prophet cannot lead us astray."  He can't?  You only believe that because he's "special" and operating on a higher level of enlightenment than other people.  If you didn't believe he was "special" and more "godly" than you would concur that he's just a human being, like you or I and equally capable of leading anyone astray, making mistakes and saying wrong things at times.  It would be difficult to prove to yourself that the LDS faith elevates the believers and leaders to a special status in God's kingdom.  That's what it is all about... being a "saint" among all others. 

 

 

 
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I'm still not sure what you mean by "saint" status.

 

I don't think your friend was right to think her bishop had some special ability or blessing that made him "better".  She is right...he should have known better...as a human being.  No I do not agree the men who hold the priesthood and positions of bishop are operating in some type of "more enlightened state" of having been bestowed special powers...

I believe he has access to inspiration that I don't have.  But that doesn't automatically give him some special ability or strength to be a "better" person.  He still in the same boat that I am with that regard. 

 

But with regard to prophets and leaders of that such.  A few quotes that can probably say it better than me.

 

"Just a few examples of balanced history. In a fine article by James Kimball, he describes the troubled marriage and family life of J. Golden Kimball.[17] Yet the article allows us to see the folk hero as a real person, facing tragic events just like we do every day, and it also gives us insight into his compassionate nature.

Another example, from a relative of J. Golden, is the 1977 biography of President Spencer W. Kimball by his son and grandson. They wrote that they "tried to be candid, neither omitting weaknesses and problems nor exaggerating strengths."[18] Yet that biography is all the more moving and convincing because in it we see President Kimball as a real person.

Here is an interesting passage from another wonderful book: "President [Heber J.] Grant was a tenacious businessman. In banking, in insurance, in the sugar company, and in other ways, he showed his ability as a businessman, but much of his success resulted from his tenacity to put over a deal which, in many instances, I think could be rather sharp. That was one of his great weaknesses–one that made it difficult for some people to support him. But I learned, and knew from the time I went to preside over the British Mission, that in addition to his financial ability, he was a prophet of God and lived very close to the Lord." Notice how sympathetic, yet how balanced this character sketch is. The author asserts that a church president could have "great weaknesses." Yet he could also have great spiritual power.  The author was an apostle and member of the First Presidency for many years–Hugh B. Brown.

 

One standard "organizational" response to such an event as the Mountain Meadows Massacre would be to ignore it entirely, the stonewalling approach. However, our present Church President, Gordon B. Hinckley, has met with the descendants organization of the Mountain Meadows Massacre and spoke at the dedication of monument at Mountain Meadows on September 15, 1990 and September 11, 1999. He has opened the archives to descendants of the Massacre. President Hinckley's willingness to acknowledge and discuss this tragic event has done much to bring about healing of the wounds of the massacre in modern times.[19]"

 

The bold is the quick answer to how I view it.

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The canyon divide comes from negativity as shown by one side in the discussion. If one is critical about the lds church I will become defensive. If one is respectful toward the lds church regardless if they are postmo or exmo I can have a good discussion. It matters very little to me if one is postmo or exmo as long as they are respectful toward the lds church. Lets put it this way: if one still believes in the lds church and one is dealing with that person the best way to foster discussion is to not be negative toward what that person believes.

 

This would also need to be adopted by the believing member toward the one who left the lds church. Until that happens the divide will exist.  

 
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IM, this goes both ways. If a TBM comes on here and rails on the people here that they are wrong with no critical thought as to why, or they take the "I have the Truth" and you don't position it widens the gap as well.

 

 

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One standard "organizational" response to such an event as the Mountain Meadows Massacre would be to ignore it entirely, the stonewalling approach. However, our present Church President, Gordon B. Hinckley, has met with the descendants organization of the Mountain Meadows Massacre and spoke at the dedication of monument at Mountain Meadows on September 15, 1990 and September 11, 1999. He has opened the archives to descendants of the Massacre. President Hinckley's willingness to acknowledge and discuss this tragic event has done much to bring about healing of the wounds of the massacre in modern times.[19]"

 

 

 

Wiley

 

I will have to take issue with you on this one. Hinckley did make some connection and did reach out but he did not apologize on behalf of the Church. I think maybe because it would have been an admission of culpability and left the Church open to reparations, which in my opinion it should pay without being asked. The property stolen from the dead at Mountain Meadows would have been vaued at about 1,000,000 in todays dollars. Add the interest over time and pay the families.

 

Secondly when the forensic scientists started to do thier work they found that many in the Fancher party were shot in the head at point blanck range. Heinous. When the Church got word of those findings they immediately confiscated the bones and locked them away. Done. This is , in my opinion, a cowardly act. Let the chips fall if you want true healing.

 

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