How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
Roy
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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by Roy » 21 May 2017, 12:24

SD said much of what I would have said. I frame it under the following concepts:

1) Pick your battles. What do I want more than to be validated (especially knowing that some people/situations may never validate me)? I personally do not pay tithing. Writing large checks to the church would be my breaking point. Because I know that I am relatively inflexible on this issue I may need to be more flexible in other areas.
2) Consider the audience. I am comfortable presenting myself somewhat differently in different settings.
3) We are all works in progress. Be careful of declarations that may seem to permanently define you in the minds of others (and limit your future options). For example, I say that I have hope and faith in concepts that I find so beautiful that I long for them to be true...even if I cannot say "I know." I also leave room for a return to paying tithing in the future.

I wanted to be permitted to baptize my children (I was) and I still want the ordain my son when the time comes. This has led me to try to act in deliberate ways that are more likely to achieve the desired result.
DoubtingTom wrote:
21 May 2017, 08:57
What value and meaning do you feel in belonging to a community where you feel if you were to publicly share your personal perspectives you would be rejected or dismissed?
There is a big heritage aspect. I want to be included in my son's priesthood line of authority. I wanted to be the one to baptize my kids because my dad did it for me and I had always imagined myself doing that for my own children.

There is also the extended family aspect. We live far enough away from family that they are not really involved in the daily minutia but if we missed a major milestone ordinance it would set off red flags. We want our children to be accepted and treated the same as the other cousins and grandchildren. We also do not want the drama and judgment that would come our way as parents.

DW is a believer. She does not have her eyes closed to a number of the problems that the church has currently or has had in the past. She would not begrudge people for throwing up their hands and walking away if that is what they feel they need to do. Her path is to stick with what she knows, what she feels in a subconscious level. Part of why I do what I do is out of love, respect, and support for her.

While I wait for my kids to grow up and get their ordinances, we take advantage of the framework, community, and the programs offered. We contribute where and how we are able to make the programs better.

Finally, I am still a spiritual person and I am still hungry for meaning. There are some aspects and teachings of Mormonism that are wonderful to me. I feel free to explore the universe of ideas but my framework will always have a Mormon bent or Mormon flavor. I may be "out of step" intellectually but the LDS are still my tribe and my people. No matter our differences, there is always more that binds us in common.
"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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dande48
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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by dande48 » 21 May 2017, 14:36

DarkJedi wrote:
21 May 2017, 03:50
Sharing doubts, questions, and unbeliefs is risky with any member, leader or not.
I agree 100%. The devil is in the details. Just make a simple statement of unbelief, and make it clear what you will and will not do. When pressed on the reason, I once said, "For one, I do not believe it is necessary to correct another's religious beliefs." The discussion ended there.

It is not your duty to meet with those you do not wish to meet. Nor do you need to provide details to those who ask. I got asked eight months back to meet with the SP, after turning down a position in the EQ presidency. I politely declined, stating I would rather be with my family on weeknights. You choose how much of the Church you want in your life.
DoubtingTom wrote:
21 May 2017, 08:57
What value and meaning do you feel in belonging to a community where you feel if you were to publicly share your personal perspectives you would be rejected or dismissed? ... Other than support for my spouse, why continue to associate with a community that would reject the authentic self?

And right now it is a real struggle and I am having a very hard time coming up with reasons for someone like myself who falls more on the side of disbelief to continue. I could continue attending for years, but will that bring me satisfaction and joy? Am I missing out on being part of a different community that would accept me for me?
I hear ya, Tom. Some days, I feel the same way.

There are many members of the Church who are genuinely good people, who love you simply because you are a child of God. There are a lot of stories and messages the gospel conveys that are good and inspiring, even if they aren't literally true. Belonging to a group brings people with the same likes and goals together under mutual comradery; people so different, they'd have nothing to do with one another, if not for the Church. Take this site, for example. We have lovers of Star Wars, Futurama, feminists, Democrats, Republicans... I disagree with 20-25% of all the religious/political statements on here. And yet, we're brought together under the hopes of "Staying LDS". That makes you my comrade.

Will it bring you satisfaction and joy? I can't say. I think satisfaction and joy come from within, and spread outwards. Folks who say, "I will be happy when..." often never find it.
"Sir, it's quite possible this asteroid is not entirely stable." - C-3PO

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DarkJedi
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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by DarkJedi » 21 May 2017, 16:58

DoubtingTom wrote:
21 May 2017, 08:57
To those of you who suggest not sharing where you are personally with leaders or other members, may I ask a question? What value and meaning do you feel in belonging to a community where you feel if you were to publicly share your personal perspectives you would be rejected or dismissed?
I'm actually struggling with how to word this, but the straightest way is to ask you the same question. If you disagree with or doubt the organization so much, what value do you find in attending? Let's do a little analogy.

Let's say you belong the Spanky and Alfalfa's He-Man-Woman-Hater's Club (HMWHC). You joined as soon as you learned about the club, you took the oath, and attended all the meetings and activities. You couldn't get enough of it, you loved the camaraderie and everything about the club's beliefs and ideals. As time went on though you became aware of some things that you don't fully agree with any more. You figure out that not all women are trouble and there are some you'd really like to get closer with. But any relationship with a woman is grounds for your immediate dismissal from the club meaning you won't be able to attend the tailgate parties, annual pig roast, or Ultimate Frisbee Tournament. Even though you don't believe it all anymore, it's still your tribe, they're still your friends, and there's nothing better on earth than that pig - so you decide to stick around, keep the women thing to yourself, and join in the activities. Is it your place now to convert others to your way of thinking? (Mother Nature will do that eventually anyway, but we're just pretending here.) Is it your place to stand up in the next meeting and say "Girls ain't so bad, try 'em you might like 'em!"? Of course not, it's their club, their rules, and you agreed to them. If you're going to stay you need to play by the rules. Does that mean you can't say something like "Gee guys, Spanky's Mom sure does make great brownies for desert at the pig roast - that woman sure ain't so bad!"? Of course you could say that - there might be a couple guys that look at your crossways, but most will likely agree. See where I'm going with this?

We might not agree with everything that happens at church or everything that the church (or usually more accurately people in the church) teaches, but it's their club, their rules. It is no more our place to try to change those rules than it is to try to change the rules of the HMWHC or the Catholic or Baptist church down the street. That's not how it works. We can all have our opinions, but we are not free in many circumstances to share those opinions. Try sharing what a horrible boss you have with his boss or tell the CEO that your company business plan is all wrong and see how far that gets you.
This is where I am and where I am really struggling right now. I too am basically agnostic with TBM spouse and attend to support her. Support of her is also why I haven't specifically asked to be released but I have come close. I did tell my leaders and they basically know where I'm at and that was important for me to have them know.

So now I basically look at the church as a club I belong to. But what is hard for me is the thought that if I were to stand up at the pulpit and express honestly and sincerely where I am at and how I got there, that ultimately I would be rejected. So the struggle is, other than support for my spouse, why continue to associate with a community that would reject the authentic self?
Good question. Why? If you are a member of the club, you agree to the club's rules. If you're just a visitor to the club, you still play by the club's rules. If you don't want to play by the rules, don't go to the club. Again, it's their club, their rules.
And right now it is a real struggle and I am having a very hard time coming up with reasons for someone like myself who falls more on the side of disbelief to continue. I could continue attending for years, but will that bring me satisfaction and joy? Am I missing out on being part of a different community that would accept me for me? And at the very least, I am so glad I found this online community that fills that need.
Again, good question. You said you are going to support your wife. If that's the goal and purpose, you need to make that your goal and purpose. Your purpose then is not to look for satisfaction and joy except in the satisfaction and joy you get from supporting your wife because you love her. You might be missing out on different kinds of joy or spiritual fulfillment - the only way to know is to go to a different club and find out.

All that said, I sometimes sort of see myself as an observer at church. Sometimes I find great humor in some of the stuff that goes on, sometimes it makes me angry. Sometimes I pay attention and find peace, joy or satisfaction, and sometimes I find peace, joy and satisfaction by not paying attention and seeking it elsewhere (I am thankful for my tablet/phone). I can't stand at the pulpit and express all my opinions, but you might be surprised what you can get away with using scripture and GA quotes (without stretching them either). I've said I support civil gay marriage in class, making sure to add that I also believe the church has every right not to perform or recognize them (their club, their rules - but their rules don't apply to other clubs). I can freely talk about grace, about focusing on Christ, about my distaste for doing family history, and myriad other things - all without wearing a sign that says "You're all full of crap and I don't believe most of what you say" (which may well be what I'm thinking). In addition to knowing when to hold 'em and fold 'em, you also have to know when (and how) to bluff and when to call. There is a great deal to be said for nuance and speaking Sheepese as a llama. There's also much to be said for focusing on and talking about what you do believe.

I don't see your real issue here as being authenticity, I see it as wanting to leave the club but not daring to (for good reason).
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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DoubtingTom
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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by DoubtingTom » 21 May 2017, 19:31

Roy wrote:
21 May 2017, 12:24
We are all works in progress. Be careful of declarations that may seem to permanently define you in the minds of others (and limit your future options). For example, I say that I have hope and faith in concepts that I find so beautiful that I long for them to be true...even if I cannot say "I know."
This is very helpful Roy. I keep forgetting that I am still a work in progress. There is very much a tendency on my part to label myself, and the current label that seems to best apply is agnostic. I have arrived at this current position with a lot of hard work, study, prayer, and I feel that the data, reason, and logic is on my side. But you're right that even this hard-earned position may not be permanent, even if it feels that way at the time. Also, I really like your thought about longing for concepts that are so beautiful to be true. For me, being the overly logic person that I have always been, ideas being beautiful is not enough for them to be true - there needs to be data in support. But yes, I should continue to think of myself as a work in progress and not try to label myself so definitively that others will assume I am at a permanent spot.
DarkJedi wrote:
21 May 2017, 16:58
You said you are going to support your wife. If that's the goal and purpose, you need to make that your goal and purpose. Your purpose then is not to look for satisfaction and joy except in the satisfaction and joy you get from supporting your wife because you love her.
Thanks DJ. Actually, if I can even just remember that on a consistent basis, I can find meaning in attendance. I really do love her and want to support her, as my faith transition has been VERY hard on her.
DarkJedi wrote:
21 May 2017, 16:58
I don't see your real issue here as being authenticity, I see it as wanting to leave the club but not daring to (for good reason).
You could be right. Sometimes I feel so confused about all of this I honestly don't know what my motivations are. Maybe deep down I just want to throw my hands up and leave it all behind, but the consequences would be too great to be able to do that. Other times, I feel that deep down I want to stay as an open non-literal believer and be welcomed and accepted and continue to enjoy the fellowshipping and social benefits of my membership.

One thing that I have been thinking lately, and those of you who have had similar thoughts I'd be interested to know how you processed this. But for me, I feel like I never really made a decision to join the "club." That decision was made for me, and in my adult years I continued because of what I now believe to be deep indoctrination. But now that I have looked critically at the issues and arrived at much different perspectives, I think I never would have joined knowing everything I know now. And with that knowledge there comes the desire to leave. But then I think about all the good things and values I got out of my membership and my mind changes again. It's all so confusing and difficult! I really admire and even envy those of you who seem to have arrived at a place of peace in your approach to the church. I certainly am not there yet.

Again (I feel I can't say this enough) thanks for this community.

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DarkJedi
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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by DarkJedi » 21 May 2017, 20:05

I am a convert and I did choose to join the club. One ward I lived in actually did have an annual pig roast. I also attended more than one hangi on my mission, but I digress.

Even though I chose to join the club, I probably would not choose to join now knowing what I now know. On the other hand, there are lots of things I would do differently if I knew then what I know now. I recognize the experience is different for those who were raised in the church, and it does bug me to some extent that joining the club happens when you're children, when you really don't know what the heck you're getting into, and when you feel (or are led to believe) it's just part of what you do. In truth the vast majority of converts don't know what they're getting into either - that's partly why retention is such a problem IMO. Faith crisis and faith transition come to both BIC types and convert types.
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."

My Introduction

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LookingHard
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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by LookingHard » 22 May 2017, 05:02

I have been on another site that also uses "phpBB" (the software that drive this site). It has lots of great features.

The one thing it does well is allow conversations, very much a stream of (group) conscious.

One thing it does NOT do well is assist in creating something of a FAQ - a list of some of the most common topics - especially ones that really have some insights. Instead those that join in years later can go mining thousands of threads to find a few of the diamonds. We do have occasions where

This is a great thread and one that I assume has been covered a few times - and probably will be covered again. It is very important for those that want to "StayLDS". Even yesterday I had to bite my tongue in Gospel Doctrine as the teacher skipped over what I think was an important church history no less than 4 times - reiterating the whitewashed version.

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nibbler
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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by nibbler » 22 May 2017, 06:51

There have already been some excellent comments. I feel that if I were to try to answer the questions in this thread for myself I'd end up writing a book... a book that even I wouldn't be able to relate to a year or two later. Attitudes, perspectives, beliefs, knowledge, relationships... all of those things change with time. I believe that's why the advice is often to take things slow and don't do anything that would burn bridges.
DoubtingTom wrote:
21 May 2017, 19:31
... I feel like I never really made a decision to join the "club." That decision was made for me, and in my adult years I continued because of what I now believe to be deep indoctrination. But now that I have looked critically at the issues and arrived at much different perspectives, I think I never would have joined knowing everything I know now. And with that knowledge there comes the desire to leave. But then I think about all the good things and values I got out of my membership and my mind changes again. It's all so confusing and difficult!
I know you were probably looking for a BIC perspective but my situation is similar to DJ's, I wasn't born into the church, I joined it in the early college years. I made a decision to join "a" club but I could make a case that I wasn't making a decision to join "the" club, if you follow. My perception of what the club was changed over time.

This is going to sound silly but I don't believe I would have joined the LDS church had I known everything I learned much later... but I'm glad I didn't know those things that would have prevented me from joining back in the day. Despite everything, I'm glad I joined the church. I hold the attitude that no experience is a wasted experience.

The church was a symbol of stability, certainty, and truth when I needed those things in my life. The church became a symbol of uncertainty when I was ready, when I needed to process the uncertainties and contradictions of life. I don't spend much time on the what ifs because I truly wonder whether I would have arrived where I'm currently at had I not had those experiences. Those past experiences contributed to the current authentic me. They are a part of who I am. I wouldn't trade them.

More recently I've been trying to enlarge the borders of my spiritual community. Participating in communities that are outside the boundaries of Mormonism has helped me put my participation with Mormonism into perspective. Bad analogy time:

When I visit other faiths it's like I'm on the dating scene. We're each trying to impress one another and I'm super careful to respect their rules. Meanwhile my relationship with Mormonism is like an old married couple. I'll occasionally break wind really loud, even though I probably shouldn't, and I might even laugh about it.

Many people that experience a crisis, or whatever you want to call it, often spend a period where they obsessively comb trough as much information as they can find until they eventually burn out. The phrase "familiarity breeds contempt" comes to mind and what better way to become familiar with something than to obsessively read every scrap of info you can find about that thing?

When I participate in other faiths I look at my behaviors, what I feel comfortable saying and doing, and take those lessons back to the LDS church. Pretend it is just another "foreign" faith that I'm participating in. What would I feel comfortable saying and doing?

A loss of intimacy comes with that approach. I think it's human nature to want that tribe where you feel at home. A place you can let your guard down more than you otherwise would with groups where there's a more causal relationship. If there's any consolation... the group you find yourself in appears to be growing, not shrinking.
Of course I don’t want to get knocked down. But the single and sole solution to that fear is to not go anywhere where I can be knocked down. And is that not already being knocked down?
― Craig D. Lounsbrough

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DarkJedi
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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by DarkJedi » 22 May 2017, 07:16

LookingHard wrote:
22 May 2017, 05:02
Even yesterday I had to bite my tongue in Gospel Doctrine as the teacher skipped over what I think was an important church history no less than 4 times - reiterating the whitewashed version.
I'm really curious why you felt you had to bite your tongue, LH. If it's church "approved" stuff on LDS.org or referenced from there I see no harm in it. I don't always pipe up in such situations, but I do kick in when I feel like it and especially if I think it's important. I end up speaking up more times than not.
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."

My Introduction

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Minyan Man
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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by Minyan Man » 22 May 2017, 08:14

Why is it that we think in situations like this that the choice is: being authentic equals causing a scene?
(I hope I'm not reading too much in this topic.)

There have been times in my life at SS or PH where I can take the "party line" only so long.
The I raise my little hand and tell the class what I really think. I can do it in a way that is usually politically correct.
In those rare cases where I feel bad afterwards, I talk to the teacher privately or talk to close friends about the topic discussed.
Most say that they were sure what I said, most people were thinking. I believe in opposing viewpoints. They challenge me & I ask
myself "what do you really believe?" or "can I change what I believe?"

When it comes to callings in the church, I usually say that I need time to think & pray about it.
There are a few callings where I've said yes right away. I like Family History, computers & teaching (usually) one on one.
Plus, there are no leadership meetings or training sessions. I'm on my own. Other people like an audience. I avoid situations like that
as much as possible.

I will never take another calling where I feel I have to automatically say yes.
In those situations where I say no, I refuse to feel guilty.

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nibbler
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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by nibbler » 22 May 2017, 08:43

Minyan Man raises a good point. I've had moments in the past where my attitude could be described as preemptively excluding myself from my community. In other words, the assumptions I was making were creating more of a division than anything anyone else was doing.
Of course I don’t want to get knocked down. But the single and sole solution to that fear is to not go anywhere where I can be knocked down. And is that not already being knocked down?
― Craig D. Lounsbrough

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