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Spiritual Anchors

Posted: 12 Jul 2018, 10:27
by hawkgrrrl
A great post from Michael Austin. Love his writing! https://bycommonconsent.com/2018/07/12/ ... l-anchors/

A few highlights. He talks about 3 childhood beliefs he held that created a belief heuristic or shortcut for him, one that prevented him from spiritual development. Here they are:
1 - Satan can hear every word I say but can never read my mind.
2 - If I repent and am forgiven, and then commit the same sin again, my previous repentance will be revoked.
3 - If a prophet or Church leader tells me to do something that is wrong, and I do it anyway, then I will be blessed for my obedience and the Church leader will be punished.
He explains the concept of an anchoring heuristic:
These are all examples of what cognitive scientists now call the “anchoring heuristic.” A heuristic is a mental shortcut that we use to use to make decisions quickly, without putting a lot of thought into them because a rule of thumb usually produces answers that are good enough for our immediate needs. The anchoring heuristic causes us to take an initial piece of information and use it as a reference point for future deliberations. We may move away from the anchor a little bit, but the initial information defines our range of possible responses.
He concludes:
Some of the most profoundly religious people I know no longer consider themselves to be religious believers at all. And there is a specificity to these non-beliefs. My friends who used to be Catholic see the world very differently than my friends who used to be Evangelical or who used to be Mormon. The anchors of faith persist, even in unbelief.

This, I think, is one of the reasons that I still define myself as a believer, and generally a contented one. I am not the same kind of believer that I used to be. I no longer talk to God in code in order to fool Satan. I see repentance as something very different than double-entry accounting. And I no longer look to the institutional Church to relieve me of my responsibility to exercise moral reason. I am pretty sure that I have lifted up dozens of the anchors that once defined my faith. Maybe even hundreds.

But there are thousands more holding me firmly in place in ways that I do not fully understand. These anchors don’t define me as a person, or even as a person of faith. But they do create the space in which my spiritual journeys must occur, and they constrain, but not completely, the routs that they must take.

Re: Spiritual Anchors

Posted: 12 Jul 2018, 11:31
by dande48
Thanks for sharing, Hawkgrrl!

I was also taught and held those same beliefs in childhood. Those same messages continue to pop up in Church every once in a while, even now.

The article reminded me of a book I read some time ago, called "Influence" (by Dr. Robert Caldini). It was a great read. He covered a lot of these psychological shortcuts, providing examples on how they are exploited, and how to recognize, avoid, and/or overcome that exploitation. He even brought up the LDS Church in one section (nothing anti, I promise). After an LDS temple was renovated, they held an open house for the public (as they tend to do). He decided he would attend. But then later, speaking with a friend about his intent to go, he recognized he had no interest in learning more about LDS theology or LDS architecture. In fact, the only real reason he decided to go, was because the opportunity was scarce, and entering the temple was (after dedication) very exclusive. Those two facts caused him to take a mental shortcut to decide to do something he really had no interest in doing.

We take these heuristic shortcuts all the time. There's really only so much time and energy we can spend on thinking through decisions, it's almost impossible not to. But it's also important to recognize what shortcuts we are taking and when, and where they might lead us astray.

Re: Spiritual Anchors

Posted: 13 Jul 2018, 11:48
by SilentDawning
hawkgrrrl wrote:
12 Jul 2018, 10:27
3 - If a prophet or Church leader tells me to do something that is wrong, and I do it anyway, then I will be blessed for my obedience and the Church leader will be punished.
This one always stank to me. Anyone who has followed Milgran's authority experiments know this can lead to dire consequences. I have often wondered if the Mountain Meadows Massacre is a historical instance of Milgram's experiment. In his experiment, he had an actor in a room, and a person in a white coat who asks subjects to administer electric shock to the actor/victim in the room on whom the shock was purportedly inflicted. Some subjects went all the way to life threatening shock levels. All due to the presence of authority.

https://nature.berkeley.edu/ucce50/ag-l ... icle35.htm

Re: Spiritual Anchors

Posted: 13 Jul 2018, 12:42
by SamBee
. I have often wondered if the Mountain Meadows Massacre is a historical instance of Milgram's experiment
Or in fact part of a long chain leading back to Boggs, Haun's Mill and the people who bullied JS back in his home state.

Re: Spiritual Anchors

Posted: 13 Jul 2018, 15:12
by DancingCarrot
If I repent and am forgiven, and then commit the same sin again, my previous repentance will be revoked.
This is one that I held onto for an obscenely long time. It caused my teenage and early 20s self to be wracked with self-worth issues and always wondering "Have I done enough? What counts as penitent? Am I sorry enough? How bad do I have to feel for my repentance to be accepted?" I still struggle with deciphering between perfectionism/scrupulosity and excellence/good enough. Sometimes it feels like I'm on the opposite side of the spectrum when I've only moved a couple of dials.
If a prophet or Church leader tells me to do something that is wrong, and I do it anyway, then I will be blessed for my obedience and the Church leader will be punished.
.....
And the third created a toxic relationship with the Church that compelled me, for a time, to surrender my own judgment to institutional pronouncements. It tempted me to substitute obedience for moral reasoning and to justify my own spiritual errors with the comforting thought that, if I just obeyed hard enough, somebody else would have to pay for it.
I wasn't concerned about someone else being able to pay the price, however I was very concerned at not receiving blame or punishment because that meant I was a bad person. Again, I think this has a lot more to do with my own natural tendencies, especially considering neither of my siblings have issues with this or at least none that they talk about, but it's quite an unfortunate combination that I've learned how to manage better. That's why words like these bring me comfort:
But leaving the harbor is a dangerous proposition for a person on a ship. You might get lost. You might hit a storm and sink. And you might find someplace that you like better than your own harbor and stay there. It happens all the time. People don’t come back, or they change so much while they are at sea that nobody even recognizes them when they return.
A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are built for.
Ships are built to ride the waves, not become the ocean floor, if they have a competent crew. I'm learning abilities to navigate the seas so that I can go through waters I've never seen before, with a crew that's ready to adventure through whatever we come across. Sometimes the place will be so beautiful we'll spend a lot of time there, other places we won't need to even go near.

Re: Spiritual Anchors

Posted: 13 Jul 2018, 19:50
by Curt Sunshine
Michael is a treasure. That is all for now. :D

Re: Spiritual Anchors

Posted: 14 Jul 2018, 03:32
by SamBee
- Satan can hear every word I say but can never read my mind.
I find it odd how he turned this one round.

Re: Spiritual Anchors

Posted: 14 Jul 2018, 08:44
by DarkJedi
SamBee wrote:
14 Jul 2018, 03:32
- Satan can hear every word I say but can never read my mind.
I find it odd how he turned this one round.
I've heard people in my own ward say this before. Some of these same people might also stand up in F&TM and talk about Satan's influence, clearly indicating he can influence their thoughts/minds. I have trouble with it being both ways - but not a lot of trouble because:

1) I don't believe Satan can influence our minds/thoughts. Why would our loving Father give him - and apparently him only - the power to do that?
2) If Satan is as taught, he could only hear you were he present. Again, why would God give him some super power to do something the rest of us can't do?
3) I'm not even sure there is a Satan. There is evil, no doubt. I view Satan as more of a symbol of evil.
4) I believe Stan gets far more credit than he deserves, and that the "natural man" is given free pass much more often than is real. That is, I think we are all fully capable of doing lots of evil or sinful things without any help from supernatural beings.

Re: Spiritual Anchors

Posted: 16 Jul 2018, 13:33
by Roy
But there are thousands more holding me firmly in place in ways that I do not fully understand. These anchors don’t define me as a person, or even as a person of faith. But they do create the space in which my spiritual journeys must occur, and they constrain, but not completely, the routs that they must take.
This is my primary takeaway from this blog post. Even if I had my name removed from church records, many of the things that make up who I am would still be very "Mormon". They serve as anchors or tether points or as a "lens" in how I understand myself and interpret the world around me.

Re: Spiritual Anchors

Posted: 18 Jul 2018, 18:55
by Heber13
dande48 wrote:
12 Jul 2018, 11:31
. In fact, the only real reason he decided to go, was because the opportunity was scarce, and entering the temple was (after dedication) very exclusive. Those two facts caused him to take a mental shortcut to decide to do something he really had no interest in doing.
That's interesting!! Lots of truth to that.