The Details are Less Important than the Picture

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Curt Sunshine
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The Details are Less Important than the Picture

Post by Curt Sunshine » 02 Feb 2011, 14:29

I said in a thread over at Mormanity recently that I really don't care about how different people choose to frame their understandings of various concepts - that we often say the same general things in different words. I also believe that this happens a lot in religious discussions that get acrimonious and heated - that the people often agree to a larger degree than they disagree, but the way they interpret the other person's words gets in the way of understanding.

With that in mind, there is a post entitled "Many Perspectives; One Truth" (http://rainscamedown.blogspot.com/2011/ ... truth.html) over on Silver Rain's blog that includes the following thought:
One such moment was in art class. We often sketched still lifes of styrofoam, fruit, random office supplies. After one such session, the instructor had us put all of our sketches up side by side to compare and critique. After we were done, he pointed out that all of the sketches were completely different, though the arrangement we sketched was the same. Even if all of our skills in sketching had been equal, some sketches showed parts of the arrangement that others couldn't see. In some sketches, entire elements of the arrangement were missing because they could not see them. He compared it to truth, and our search for truth.

There is an old saying I've heard in many variations, "There are always three sides: yours, mine, and the truth." When I was going through counseling to start me on the path to recovery, it was pointed out to me a that my perspective was not any less accurate than another. That has been a hard lesson for me to learn.

But, I have begun to see that although there are many perspectives on any given situation (whether you are talking about describing an event or about religious truths), there is only one truth. And while I may not be completely accurate in describing that truth, neither is anyone else. I don't have to take their perspective as somehow more true than my own.


One of the core ideas here at StayLDS is that we have the right and opportunity to find the perspective that makes the most sense to us as individuals - that what works for us can be "true" for us, even if it isn't full and complete "Truth" yet. Sometimes we struggle, as Silver Rain indicates, to accept that "(our) perspective is not any less accurate than another" - but sometimes we struggle just as much to accept that "(another's) perspective is not any less accurate than (ours)."

I believe that the details of our differing perspectives often are less important than the picture we are trying to paint - and that painting a "True" picture is a communal process for three main reasons:

1) I can learn to see that picture more comprehensively AND in greater detail through understanding other perspectives than I can on my own;

2) Others can learn to see that picture more comprehensively AND in greater details through understanding my perspective than they can on their own.

3) That learning is an ever cycling evolution of understanding, in which the vision of each and of all is reinforced and strengthened and sharpened continually as individual AND communal perspectives are changed (line upon line, precept upon precept) by the constant interaction of differing paradigms.

Remove me from the group, and I suffer - but no less so than the group suffers from my departure. The sum of the whole really is greater than the sum of the parts, individually AND communally - so I stay, to see and help others see more clearly and comprehensively.
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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Heber13
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Re: The Details are Less Important than the Picture

Post by Heber13 » 02 Feb 2011, 15:05

Reminds me of the story of the Blind men and the Elephant, to which the Buddha tells, and then says:
O how they cling and wrangle, some who claim
For preacher and monk the honored name!
For, quarreling, each to his view they cling.
Such folk see only one side of a thing.
I think this is one reason why staying involved in church is helpful, because of the interaction with others. I think that is important, as long as it is not seen as the way we get better is falling in line and following the crowd. No, being part of the group is to help us as we get better individually.

One of my favorite Sting songs:
Men go crazy in congregations, they only get better one by one.
There are extremes to these two arguments...First, we cannot be on an island and progress...we need the whole picture and others can help provide us with more details and new ways to look at things.

Secondly, however, the other extreme is that we don't get better by adopting others' views...we need to see the details ourselves and apply them to our lives individually in order to progress, but the views of others can help us in that journey.

In other words, the details become important when we have the whole picture, and the picture becomes more enriching when we have more details than just from our own personal views.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Orson
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Re: The Details are Less Important than the Picture

Post by Orson » 03 Feb 2011, 09:05

Ray Degraw wrote: ...as Silver Rain indicates, to accept that "(our) perspective is not any less accurate than another" - but sometimes we struggle just as much to accept that "(another's) perspective is not any less accurate than (ours)."
Excellent point! At times while sitting in church post-crisis I have had this thought. I have tried to expand my understanding to see how other members may simply be focused on different aspects of the same truth, and therefore their words or "interpretation", although sounding vastly different than my own, may still contain some elements that will help me gain a more complete picture in some way.

It is far from an "on the surface" type of analysis. It can be beneficial, but it can also drive you insane. I think it is also important to be comfortable with where you are at the moment. Don't feel the need to live up to someone else's ideal.
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I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

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SilentDawning
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Re: The Details are Less Important than the Picture

Post by SilentDawning » 03 Feb 2011, 09:41

If you just focus on the outcomes of character -- love, kindness, hard work, etcetera, then really, all the dogma and trappings of religion don't seem to matter as much -- unless you've created a cultural web of Mormonism around you as some of us have.
Last edited by SilentDawning on 06 Feb 2011, 11:38, edited 1 time in total.
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A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

Roy
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Re: The Details are Less Important than the Picture

Post by Roy » 04 Feb 2011, 13:08

Ray Degraw wrote:the vision of each and of all is reinforced and strengthened and sharpened continually as individual AND communal perspectives are changed (line upon line, precept upon precept) by the constant interaction of differing paradigms.

Remove me from the group, and I suffer - but no less so than the group suffers from my departure. The sum of the whole really is greater than the sum of the parts, individually AND communally - so I stay, to see and help others see more clearly and comprehensively.
I love this perspective. In reading this, 1 Cor. 12 comes to mind:

11)But all these worketh that one and the same spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
12)For as the body is one and has many members, and all of the members of that one body, being many are one body: so also is Christ.
13)For by one spirit we are all baptised into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one spirit.
14) For the body is not one member but many.
15) If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body: is it therefore not of the body?
16)And if the ear shall say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body: is it therefore not of the body?
17)If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole body were hearing, where were the smelling?
18)But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body as it hath pleased him.
20)And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
22)Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

What is the body? How large is our community? How do we interact with it? How might we improve our own contribution and the synergistic flow of the whole?
"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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cwald
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Re: The Details are Less Important than the Picture

Post by cwald » 04 Feb 2011, 13:31

This thread is chuck full of good.

jwald made me read it - said it would help our marriage. :problem:
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

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jwald
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Re: The Details are Less Important than the Picture

Post by jwald » 06 Feb 2011, 00:11

Cwald said:
jwald made me read it - said it would help our marriage. :problem:
Remembering perspective will also help if you ever get in to arguments with your family again. Your phrasing gets you in trouble. You often argue on the same side as them, your wording is just different than theirs. ;)

"The details are less important than the picture"

I had an institute teacher who conveyed this when he taught. He stressed that in the end, belief in God, the Savior and the atonement were the "Big Picture." How we reached that point was less important. The Bible could be the inerrant literal word of God or it could just be a collection of and faith promoting stories about God. What mattered was that we use the Bible to learn how to make our lives and the lives of those around us better. (Although he never went as far as making that claim about the BoM :think: )
Evolution may very well have happened the way science tells us or the earth was created in 6 literal days. Either way, the important thing was to recognize that God created us. How was less important. :o

I did not realize how radical this sounded at the time. I was a ways off the TBM path at that point, but I loved that institute class :D

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