How to be authentic but not cause a scene

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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by LookingHard » 22 May 2017, 10:40

DarkJedi wrote:
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 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.
Partially it was that the teacher didn't really pause during the parts that to me seemed whitewashed and it just seemed odd to go back 5 minutes after the fact. Plus it was just a bunch of smaller ones combined. I recall one was that the teacher just said that Parly P Pratt was killed by someone tracking him down with the intent to murder him. If there would have been a pause I might have mentioned, "I worry if someone stole my wife and married her without even having a divorce I would be rather upset - and that is just how they handled things back in those days."

I also honestly respect that some people want to go to church and only hear the whitewashed version. Is it my part to take a waterhose to their whitewashed fence?

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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by On Own Now » 22 May 2017, 11:25


Two things:

- "Family secrets are not good" - that's the advice I got from my psychologist when I was facing similar situations to you and was sinking further and further into depression. Obviously you need to pick and choose the time, but I don't think any good comes from trying to 'protect' our loved ones from our reality. When it comes to whether to tell or not tell family members, I think it is always useful to ask yourself a simple question: If the roles were reversed, would you want your loved one not telling you in spite of it causing them angst to keep it bottled up inside?

- When it comes to members/leaders of the Church, I recommend working toward a situation in your life where the Church doesn't hold anything over you. I don't hold a temple recommend or a calling that I love. The Church doesn't own my house or my cars. My wife already knows. I don't have any need to perform any priesthood ordinances. In other words, at this point, the Church can't take anything away from me that I haven't already relinquished on my own years ago. So, I have no interest to protect. I am at liberty to tell anyone I want, in my family or out, in the Church or out, in leadership positions or not. I have nothing left to hide, and it is wonderful.
"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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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by DarkJedi » 22 May 2017, 11:41

No, LH, it's not necessarily your job (or anyone's job) to wash off the whitewash. I am a "do no harm" kind of guy. But if it bothered me that much (repeated 4 times probably would have) I would probably have made a point of it, and probably in a gentle way as you describe (that's just the way things were done, it was the frontier, etc.). I guess I don't really see myself in that same situation as biting my tongue. I may or may not have said something (but would have if it bothered me) but if I didn't say something I wouldn't describe it as biting my tongue. I do bite my tongue sometimes (more often in SM because it's a one sided situation where I'm not the one side) but more because either the battle isn't worth fighting (or the pearl isn't worth casting) or because I lack evidence to back up what I'm saying. Sometimes the tongue biting is actually me just disagreeing with what is being taught, but what is being taught is an actual church doctrine or policy - that's the one I have the toughest time with.

I was in another ward yesterday so I went to SS. It was the Kirtland Temple lesson. I did spend most of the time looking at the additional teaching stuff from the digital manual (which is now linked in Gospel Library). I was sort of waiting for someone to talk about the story of grinding up the china for the temple walls - which likely did not happen - but it didn't come up. This is the same ward that a few years back decided that the fish in the story of Jonah was a grouper. I did raise my hand to correct one falsehood, but somebody else beat me to it (it was about the number of temples in the 70s, the teacher completely ignored that there were several temples in foreign lands - England, Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada - at that point ). I recognize that it was not a doctrinal point, but it was incorrect nonetheless. I also told another person as we were chatting in the hall that while I appreciate what the pioneers did and honor them for that reason, I don't think we need to be a church of pioneers or that being a pioneer is part of the gospel of Christ (he had asked if I were a convert and I had responded that I was and he told me I was a pioneer in my family - I said what I said quietly, gently, and with a smile and our conversation continued). A few weeks back I went to bat for not knowing that Jesus is the Savior of other worlds - there is no scriptural proof of that, only Skousen's speculation. I generally speak up when we talk about what other church's believe - AofF 11, it doesn't matter, why don't we just focus on what we believe? As noted earlier I have said I support civil gay marriage and I support any church's right to perform or recognize them or not. I have also publicly stated I disagree with polygamy, and it's certainly something that's not for me (one needn't slam JS or BY for the practice, just state an individual belief). The sister missionaries were over for dinner the other day and attempted to get me to pray about finding someone who is ready for the gospel. I would have let that one go, but she was a bit over persistent so I bluntly let her know that I don't believe in prayer (she was a bit flabbergasted, but she asked for it, and fortunately for her DW cut her off because I was in a bit of a mood). Last year we were at the newly remodeled Church History Museum where we ended up alone at the Carthage display with a missionary guide. She pointed out several things, including John Taylor's watch which she correctly stated was not struck by a bullet and did not save his life. But she added that she had always been taught otherwise and thought it was a faith promoting story and should continue to be taught. I asked her why she would want to persist in teaching people falsehoods, and wasn't it miracle enough that Taylor survived after being shot multiple times without the watch story? She left us alone in the room.

So after that ramble, I'll just say that we really rarely have to bite our tongues when it comes to truth. We might choose to not interject truth or reason, but choosing not to do so is not the same as biting our tongues. When we do choose to interject or contribute to the lesson/discussion it's not necessary to make a scene about how evil JS or BY or anyone else was/is - a gentle stating of facts s all that's usually necessary ("Actually there were 13 temples in 1970 and 4 were built in the 70s" "Speculation can be a dangerous thing to the pure gospel, I like to stick to what we do actually know" "One wife is plenty for me, I can barely handle her - but it's not likely I would have been chosen to practice polygamy anyway seeing as how I would have questioned it then too" "Gay marriage has been legal here for over 5 years, I see no difference in now and 5 years ago, and no church has been forced to recognize or perform gay marriage here and there doesn't seem to be any movement to change that. The only difference I see is that the same people who were living together and sinning before that are now calling themselves married - and they are way more heterosexuals living in the same kind of sin who are unmarried")

BTW, LH, I do like the idea of a FAQ part. We could make it a sticky and add thread links as they come up. Maybe that's worth a discussion among the Mods.
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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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by Reuben » 22 May 2017, 12:25

LookingHard wrote:
22 May 2017, 10:40
I also honestly respect that some people want to go to church and only hear the whitewashed version. Is it my part to take a waterhose to their whitewashed fence?
Elder Christofferson might have some advice for you, which echoes common sentiment among Mormons:
Do not abandon those who would welcome truth to floundering and failing in ignorance. Do not succumb to false notions of tolerance or to fear—fear of inconvenience, disapproval, or even suffering.
This won't do at all. Really, I think the only way to Stay LDS after a faith crisis is to become even less Mormon: to sacrifice some of that zeal for the truth. So let's look for quotes to try to justify keeping quiet, eh?

A fun riff on one of Jesus's teachings, attributed to various clever people going back at least to 1978:
The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.
I can relate to this so hard. So... another in support of hosing the whitewash off, because it's better in the long run. Well, that's debatable, and anyway, is whitewashing really so bad?

Gospel Principles manual, chapter 31:
When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying. We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest.
Okay, fine. But is it really up to us apostates to help the Church repent of institutional dishonesty? Maybe we can find an apostolic quote that suggests that keeping quiet out of loyalty or self-preservation is perfectly okay.
Some things that are true are not very useful.
There we go. Elder Packer was teaching us how to Stay LDS way back in 1981, long before this forum was even a twinkle in John Dehlin's eye. That's truly the spirit of prophecy.

More seriously, though, I agree with every quote, including that last one - I just don't like how Elder Packer defines utility as increasing belief in his favorite foregone conclusion.

Here's another that might be relevant:
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
People become wild animals when they feel threatened. Even the best of us can be as vicious as wolves. Mixing metaphors a bit, I think the whitewash absolutely has to come off, but would I ever consider spraying down a wolf? No serpent worth his Slytherin sorting would do that. A real Slytherin would act like a really cuddly Ravenclaw, or maybe like Terryl Givens.

I think I drifted a little at the end, there.
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Love before dogma. Truth before loyalty. Knowledge before certainty.

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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by Heber13 » 22 May 2017, 12:47

I have a sermon...are you ready??? If not...please skip. :shifty: Sorry about this...but I loved your original post and your questions and these thoughts are what came to mind...(it got a bit lengthy...and I bet it is stuff you already please don't take it as I am saying things you don't do or don't know):

It is being authentic to have doubts and still try to stay for your family's sake.

It is being authentic to see the good, even if the mystery or magical stuff is not believable.

It is being authentic to love others, and filter your thoughts so you don't harm others and their faith. It is very authentic and respectful.

It is being authentic to say "I don't believe that" and just leave it at that, without expounding further if it only leads to debate or tension.

It is being authentic to smile, and say "No." (that includes callings and invitations of any kind)

It is being authentic to disagree with boring, stale, pat answers and flowery rhetoric and regurgitated sunday school answers.

It is being authentic to accept yourself and your own views, and still call yourself a mormon if you want to.

When the church leaders state clearly:
"Believe in yourself, and believe in Him. Don’t demean your worth or denigrate your contribution. Above all, don’t abandon your role in the chorus. Why? Because you are unique; you are irreplaceable. The loss of even one voice diminishes every other singer in this great mortal choir of ours, including the loss of those who feel they are on the margins of society or the margins of the Church.

Brothers and sisters, we live in a mortal world with many songs we cannot or do not yet sing. But I plead with each one of us to stay permanently and faithfully in the choir, where we will be able to savor forever that most precious anthem of all—“the song of redeeming love.” Fortunately, the seats for this particular number are limitless. There is room for those who speak different languages, celebrate diverse cultures, and live in a host of locations. There is room for the single, for the married, for large families, and for the childless. There is room for those who once had questions regarding their faith and room for those who still do. There is room for those with differing sexual attractions. In short, there is a place for everyone who loves God and honors His commandments as the inviolable measuring rod for personal behavior, for if love of God is the melody of our shared song, surely our common quest to obey Him is the indispensable harmony in it. With divine imperatives of love and faith, repentance and compassion, honesty and forgiveness, there is room in this choir for all who wish to be there. “Come as you are,” a loving Father says to each of us, but He adds, “Don’t plan to stay as you are.” We smile and remember that God is determined to make of us more than we thought we could be."
- Elder Holland, April 2017 GC

...then it is authentic to take them up on that offer, and be yourself and believe what you believe, and let others deal with it. Church leaders are saying there is room for you in the church, as you are. You do not have to try to wear a mask or be different before you can do church the way you want to do church.

It is between you and the Lord...and if you don't believe in is you and the universe and whatever you believe. What others think does not ultimately matter.

The Church does NOT want you to be inauthentic. That is not in harmony with its teachings.
"I've told him I plan to attend church with the family but not hold a calling or go visiting teaching."
That is great you are supportive and loving in that way. Attending for the family and allowing the children to grow up to learn things and make up their own minds is authentic, not anti. It will take its course.
"I would love to get your views on how to balance holding to my decision of being authentic while also not having everyone at church find out I am not believing."
My opinion is to find a peaceful place for yourself and your faith. If people directly ask you, answer it, even if that means they find out you don't believe many things. If they don't ask...keep thoughts to yourself.

Look for a middle path, that allows you to be your agnostic self, while also seeing the good the church teaches and does.

Are you agnostic about loving others or serving others?
Are you agnostic about finding peace and happiness in life?
Are you agnostic about living in the moment and letting go of fears of the past or the future?

These are questions you can wrestle with on your own. Church is a buffet, not an all or nothing proposition. Life is more complex than that, even if others disagree and simplify it to make themselves feel better (that is about them). Take the sacrament, and ponder the things that matter to you and your heart and your spirit. Turn the sacrament into something that is meaningful to your soul...and use that power within.

Pay attention to the things that really bother you and that you can't let go of. Find out why. Find out what you think about it, and what you believe.

Allow others to believe the way they do, and you can be on your own path to find out what you believe and have faith it. (It sounds like you are doing this already).

You may find you and others are all walking along the path together, despite different thoughts and feelings and stories in our heads we tell about the path. Those are just stories to frame things to talk about.

You can learn to become comfortable with paradox and different metaphors that try to teach universal truths.

Cling to the good you can find, where ever you find it. Let go of the rest.

You may find you fit in just nicely with other good mormon people who believe God spoke to Joseph Smith in order to teach people truth. Regardless of what the story details are, focus on the principles we should all seek for in this life.

And be authentic to that, including how you be loving to others who believe in things you do not believe in. The rest will take care of itself.

In the world we now live is more and more common for people to not really believe the magical mormon stuff as literally true. You will not be the only one in the ward with a spouse who believes it one way, but unable to believe it the same way yourself. You are likely to bump into others with the similar family dynamic. You may even be able to provide and example and provide strength to others on how the home can stay harmonious despite the dynamic.

I imagine if you go to church on your terms and be yourself, others will respect you for it...most especially your children as they grow. And that is all that really matters.

Be authentic, whether you believe or disbelieve. Being authentic is not being anti and angry and tearing down others (which you know). So separate those out and be yourself and do church how it makes you happy. Let the chips fall where they may. Others will respect you when you are authentic and you go about doing good in your life, and love your family and lift those around you. Regardless of the details of whether you believe we'll be building planets in the next life or doing missionary work or doing anything. Most people kinda agree all that mormony stuff is kinda silly anyway. But some hold it sacred...and we respect that if they do.

Today is the day to do good to those around you. And that will win the day. Always seek to be authentic in all you do. And celebrate your uniqueness, and all your accomplishments...and let that light shine to others so others know it is safe to be authentic too. Others may need that light from you.
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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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by journeygirl » 23 May 2017, 09:02

Wow, thanks everyone, I've really appreciated reading the discussion going on.

Minyan Man: It is very helpful to read your experience. I think with this being so new to me I worry about it not working out well, but reading how you have been successful gives me some hope for my situation.

OnOwnNow: That really is good advice about family secrets. I don't like them either, and that has been a struggle with my goal of being authentic. My mom really thinks I shouldn't tell my dad, but I don't like feeling like I have to hide. I will need to figure how to handle that better. I liked your suggestion to set things up so the church can't take anything away from me and to not feel like I have anything to hide. That would make it much more comfortable being authentic.

Heber: Thank you so much for your response, you gave me a lot to think about. That is helpful to see how being authentic is very broad and can mean a lot of things. I do like the idea of finding the middle path and realizing that the church leaders make space for that, even if it seems sometimes that individual members don't. I really loved your conclusion:
Today is the day to do good to those around you. And that will win the day. Always seek to be authentic in all you do. And celebrate your uniqueness, and all your accomplishments...and let that light shine to others so others know it is safe to be authentic too. Others may need that light from you.
You really make me feel hopeful, which I haven't felt in a while! Thank you!

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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by Roy » 28 May 2017, 14:24

Homer Simpson wrote:
23 May 2017, 09:02
I just want someone to call me Sir. without adding "your making a scene."
"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

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

Post by SilentDawning » 01 Jun 2017, 16:39

journeygirl wrote:
21 May 2017, 12:19
Thanks everyone for your responses. I really appreciate your comments.

SD: I really liked that idea to be authentic in what I do more than just what I say. That seems to be the way I am dealing with it with my dad, if I don't directly address things with him then he has deniability, but he (likely) won't call me out on something he may notice on his own. At church I could imagine doing certain roles but probably more informal or temporary things, so that might be a way to set a limit there and be authentic in what I do.

I also liked your suggest in keeping options open. It seems like a safer approach. I am worried about what to do when directly confronted about something, like why I don't have a recommend. It was good to read your experience with that. I wonder if it would be different for me as a woman though? Since there wouldn't be that concern on their part of losing a priesthood holder?
Be vague in your answer. One that got me out of that direct question from a SP was "A TR isn't something we're passionate about right now". Or, "I don't think a TR is right for me at this point in my life". Or something that doesn't give the real reason.

If they push, then you have to be vague until they get the idea you aren't going to say it. A follow up vague answer would be "I'm not sure of the reason, but when I think of doing it it doesn't feel right to me for the time being". Or "It's not something I can put my finger on right now". I sometimes indicate that there is no sin to talk about, that I am worthy, in my view, it's just not something that I feel I can do right now.

Keep being vague in different words until they give up.

In my experience, most leaders are really weak at getting to the bottom of members' concerns. They ask for the commitment -- they hack at the leaves without getting to the root. And they give up when you won't give them the leaves...

I don't think the fact you're a woman is going to affect their probing or anything -- being vague and stonewall until they go away :)
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by Ann » 02 Jun 2017, 09:36

Journey Girl - There is so much good stuff here. Only two things are coming to my mind.

Try to find something - however small - you're willing to contribute to your new ward. I think that in times of stress, overload, and transition, giving what we still can in good conscience give is important.

There's a great family in our stake. She's a return missionary, married in the temple, four kids, executive-level job. Not always at church. She's a positive personality making some contribution to the congregation and seems happy, comfortable in her own skin and beliefs. (See my first quote below.)

Good luck with your program. :clap:
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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Re: How to be authentic but not cause a scene

Post by journeygirl » 02 Jun 2017, 14:34

Roy wrote:
28 May 2017, 14:24
Homer Simpson wrote:
23 May 2017, 09:02
I just want someone to call me Sir. without adding "your making a scene."

SD: I really want to work on that skill of being vague in my answer. You gave some really good ways of doing that. I think that will be a key for me in this process.

Ann: It helps to hear about someone who is being authentic in their participation, and to know it comes off as her being happy and not hiding who she is.

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