Collateral Damage

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AmyJ
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Collateral Damage

Post by AmyJ » 18 Apr 2019, 07:17

One of the things that I have realized in the last 6 months or so, that in my current state of my journey - a lot of standard principles/topics have no impact on me.

Examples:
I struggle with a belief in God right now - so other common doctrinal assumptions (such as believing in Satan) go out the window. Because it is not a positive part of my belief system right now (following good StayLDS protocol & general common sense), I don't mention that I don't believe in Satan anymore. But when Satan is brought up as part of the narrative as dealing with temptation - we now no longer have common ground because the listener is expecting me to agree with the common point that Satan influences people, but now some common ground is lost because my actions not influenced by that belief statement.

Another example is family history. Struggling to believe in God has placed other principles such as a belief in an afterlife and/or temple ordinances on a shelf to be dealt with later. So hearing about family history in the traditional way and reasons does nothing for me. When I redirect to other ways to complete family history (i.e. documenting medical concerns and known prescription reactions across generations), I get weird looks with the connotation of "why are you changing the script" as it were (which is fine, it's what I do).

I just struggle sometimes with how to react when people act like I just kicked their favorite pet testimony-wise.

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DarkJedi
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Re: Collateral Damage

Post by DarkJedi » 18 Apr 2019, 09:55

When my shelf collapsed, or the analogy I like more my church faith building collapsed, all of that came crashing down. That's where my description of being agnostic and nearly atheist comes from (by some definitions I was indeed atheist). The problem was the God I believed in before was some other men's interpretation of God, the one that finds lost car keys (it's actually the angel played by Daniel Radcliff that does that apparently). The rebuilding of my faith edifice began with my own basic belief in a Creator God (Thanks to Neil Degrasse Tyson!) but left most other things still wide open - including the whole Messiah/Savior/Son of God thing. More recently I've concluded that I am probably more unitarian in my belief about God and Jesus. But you name it, and if it was part of my religious beliefs/faith it was in the pile of rubble and much of it still is. Then there's the whole doctrine/policy/tradition question and things that I have come up with that I term pseudo-doctrine and para-doctrine. It's all pretty messy.
I just struggle sometimes with how to react when people act like I just kicked their favorite pet testimony-wise.
My answer here is pretty simple. Don't kick their pet testimony. Let it be. It's perfectly OK for friends, even close friends and spouses, to have different opinions about the same thing and it's not necessary to share your opinion with anybody, especially if they didn't ask (but you did ask). And humor works too - in regard to family history, I have been known to say "Well if I do it all now, what am I going to do during the Millennium? That's a long time to have nothing to do!"
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Curt Sunshine
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Re: Collateral Damage

Post by Curt Sunshine » 18 Apr 2019, 12:06

Whenever Satan is mentioned, I tend to respond with something like the following:
I understand temptation feels different for everyone, and that a lot of it happens naturally just as part of life, so I personally like to focus on how I need to respond to temptation of any kind. I don't like blaming others for my temptations and actions, even Satan. That's just me, but it does help me take responsibility for what I do.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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DarkJedi
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Re: Collateral Damage

Post by DarkJedi » 18 Apr 2019, 12:14

Curt Sunshine wrote:
18 Apr 2019, 12:06
Whenever Satan is mentioned, I tend to respond with something like the following:

"I understand temptation feels different for everyone, and that a lot of it happens naturally just as part of life, so I personally like to focus on how I need to respond to temptation of any kind. I don't like blaming others for my temptations and actions, even Satan. That's just me, but it does help me take responsibility for what I do."
Thanks for sharing that Curt. I am a believer in the "natural man" (although like most other things probably not in exactly the same way as most others). I'm not much of a believer in Satan as a powerful supernatural being who can influence our thoughts. This is a good Mormonspeak (or sheepese if you prefer) way to phrase that.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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On Own Now
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Re: Collateral Damage

Post by On Own Now » 18 Apr 2019, 12:18

<Philosophy>
FWIW, if I could point to any one BEST new idea that came out of my faith crisis, it was no longer believing in the devil. Whether there is a God or not, I think it helps increase our resolve and potential to stop believing that bad ideas come to us because of some external other being, and it is our weakness to succumb that makes us make these poor choices. IMO, the reality is very different. In fact, we have a very robust ability to choose things we think of as wrong on paper. We have a strong drive toward the darker tones our our humanity. The reason I believe this idea is liberating is to acknowledge it and then to realize that we also have a strong drive toward the brighter light in us. I believe we must learn to accept ourselves for what we are and then focus on the better part of ourselves with determination to be good. Put another way, just for you, our very nature is a paradox; a balance between good and bad. But if we take control of this paradox, we can bend ourselves in the direction we want.
</Philosophy>

To the broader point of this thread, I think it helps to articulate our beliefs to others in terms of what we DO believe, not in terms of what we no longer believe. Curt's post, above, is the perfect example.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

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nibbler
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Re: Collateral Damage

Post by nibbler » 18 Apr 2019, 12:58

AmyJ wrote:
18 Apr 2019, 07:17
I just struggle sometimes with how to react when people act like I just kicked their favorite pet testimony-wise.
Isn't that church (or any community really) in a nutshell? Learning to get along in spite of people acting like their pet testimony was kicked and in spite of others kicking our pet testimony. I think one challenge is that sometimes sanctioned recess in a community can be playing kickball with other people's pet testimonies.
AmyJ wrote:
18 Apr 2019, 07:17
I struggle with a belief in God right now - so other common doctrinal assumptions (such as believing in Satan) go out the window.
It makes sense to me.

To discern light is to discern darkness. Can one exist without the other? If you begin to question darkness, does that not also call light into question? (and vice versa)

For example. The moment we create an eternal family we also create families that are not eternal. I'm not sure which is the chicken and which is the egg in that scenario, but the happy families we talk about at church implies that there must be an opposing outcome that some will experience and must be avoided.
Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.
— Henry David Thoreau

Roy
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Re: Collateral Damage

Post by Roy » 18 Apr 2019, 13:25

I feel that it can be especially frustrating when people in church act like their belief makes them better than everyone who is not at church or who has doubts or who believes differently.

I need to reduce my level of taking it personally.
To do so, I sometimes pretend to be an anthropologist studying a fascinating subculture. "Why is it important for these people that this book be a literal historical record?" "Why is it important for these people to draw clear boundaries between those that belong to the group and all others?" "Why is it important for these people to research their ancestors and perform rituals for them?"

I might also add a counterpoint by pretending to have a friend. "I have a close friend that feels that they experience God in nature and doesn't feel the need to come to church, what should we say to someone like that?" "I have a friend with a difficult home life who does not necessarily want to be with his family forever - what is left in the gospel for such an individual?" "I have a friend that I have invited to church many times but he does not believe that he would be welcome because he smokes (or drinks, or is unmarried and sexually active, or does not feel comfortable wearing a tie)" "I have a friend that loves our genealogy work but for the purposes of recording medical histories through generations - there are so many blessings that can come from this research!" or "I have a friend that loves the church but does not feel comfortable with the temple ceremonies. What might I say to help her know that she is valuable and acceptable as a member even if she never returns to the temple?"

I find the "friend" tactic especially useful if someone responds with something rude. I can save face fairly easily by saying "Thanks for the input, I will need to ponder and probably also pray about how to share these ideas with my friend."
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

AmyJ
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Re: Collateral Damage

Post by AmyJ » 19 Apr 2019, 04:57

Thanks for the insights so far.

How does the dynamic change when it is close family members/friends (if it changes)?

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SamBee
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Re: Collateral Damage

Post by SamBee » 19 Apr 2019, 07:32

I used to find it easier to believe Satan existed than God, a local warlord, capo di capo, working through divide and rule and preventing humans being happy through one means... Not much different from many of the human thugs who run parts of this world.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

Roy
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Re: Collateral Damage

Post by Roy » 22 Apr 2019, 09:29

AmyJ wrote:
19 Apr 2019, 04:57
How does the dynamic change when it is close family members/friends (if it changes)?
I think you are asking what about when it is someone close to you that seems uncomfortable with your changing of the script. This can be hard because parts of your relationship with that person may have been built upon shared experiences, shared feelings, and shared goals. I believe that this means that you redraw the boundaries in that area. You may even need to not talk about church - which can be hard when church is the entire world for some people.

Specifically in regards to a spouse, it is important to me that my spouse respects me. This would mean that I cannot much stomach my spouse believing that I am deceived, or going through a phase, or am somehow too lazy for the gospel requirmenents. I need an understanding that my religious feelings are honest, well thought out, and hard won. Ideally, I would like for my spouse to say to others something like "Roy and I don't agree on everything but I understand where he is coming from and how he got there. He is a good man with a good heart who is still fighting to define his faith. I believe that God honors that struggle." Those specific words may be an unattainable pipe dream but the sentiment remains. If the church and I were at odds, then I need my spouse to at least refuse to pick sides against me.

I feel that DW and I have arrived at a pretty good place in this regard. It took time to prove myself. I had to prove that I was not going to go off the deep end and give myself over to all sorts of debauchery and shirking of my responsibilities without the authority of the church to keep me in line.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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