How to Not Brainwash Myself

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Beefster
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How to Not Brainwash Myself

Post by Beefster » 06 Jan 2018, 09:14

I find myself torn between what I feel are 2 good things: staying in the church for social benefits and because my core beliefs are compatible, and leaving the church because I can't get behind a lot of what it stands for.

When I met up with Sheldon about a month ago, I remember one thing we talked about was how Boyd K Packer (I think) on one occasion essentially suggested that we fake our testimony until we have one. I think this is a bad way to seek truth, as it resembles brainwashing to some extent (bearing your testimony has a similar effect because humans have this interesting tendency toward believing things they say often). Truth should be truth no matter what your initial feelings are. Truth doesn't depend on your perception or beliefs or opinions, though it may be easier or harder to find depending on my current state of mind.

I recognize that some truths are going to be inherently unmeasurable. Science simply can't answer every question. I don't need to know all the answers and I couldn't even if I had a methodology to obtain said answers because my brain capacity is finite and probably much smaller than would be required to remember all the answers. There isn't time for it anyway. I am at peace with not having all the answers. That is not where my discomfort lies.

I don't want to have to fake it until I make it and I refuse to brainwash myself. I refuse to be intellectually dishonest. Yet I sort of have to fake it a little bit to be a part of the church. However, I won't ever teach what I do not believe and I have to be totally honest with some people (like my future wife, even while we're dating).

And with that, it's hard to imagine that going well. It would be unfair to her not to be upfront about my heterodoxy early in the relationship. She needs to be aware of the possibility that I leave the church and be at peace with that. I will not blindside her. But on the other hand, in doing so, I open myself up to her dumping me for my heterodoxy. I could avoid that by dating outside the church, but that comes at the price of severely disappointing my mom, and I really don't want to do that to her. (She will cry about it for years and blame herself for having to work from when I was in 3rd grade onward. I keep telling her that it was exactly what I needed at the time and it helped me to become a better, more responsible person.)

I also feel like I have to be an active TR holder until I get married just to satisfy my mom's wishes. The temple just isn't important to me personally and I don't think I believe any of the ordinances are essential. I have no desire to attend and my only draw toward the temple is to fit in with the crowd. I value the covenants I made for the most part (not sure how I feel about the Law of Consecration), but that's about it.

I'm seriously in a catch 22. All paths I can take have undesirable outcomes. Things would be so much simpler if I could just believe what I grew up with, but I'm long past the point of no return. There is no going back and being genuine about it (and TBH, there was probably no avoiding it either. It was inevitable because of my personality). I can only keep up the act for so long.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Sometimes our journeys take us to unexpected places. That is a truly beautiful thing.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: How to Not Brainwash Myself

Post by Curt Sunshine » 06 Jan 2018, 14:07

Elder Packer never said, "Fake it 'til you make it" - and that wording would have been repulsive to him. He especially would have been horrified at the idea of attributing any kind of brainwashing suggestion to himself and his words. He said that a testimony often is found in the bearing of it. Those are two very different things, when interpreted as he surely meant it, given everything else he said throughout his life.

Fwiw, my own advice is simple, and it is a core of what we tend to "preach" here:

Figure out what you personally beleive. Figure out how that fits within Mormonism itself and within the LDS Church. In some cases, there is no fit, but, in most cases, there is a fit. In most cases, someone can be a small piece of the mosaic, even if they can't be a generic piece of the largest image.

Once you figure out your own beliefs, express the common ones when with the group, then find a way to express as many of the unique ones as possible in Mormon-speak. Chances are there have been apostolic statements saying much the same thing (exactly or conceptually) at some point, and it helps to be able to reference something like that when needed (not by full quotation, perhaps, but at least by simple reference to the person).

You don't have to be fully transparent to be fully authentic, and you don't have to lie or be dishonest, either. "Discretion is the better part of valor," is accepted as a truism for a reason.
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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Beefster
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Re: How to Not Brainwash Myself

Post by Beefster » 06 Jan 2018, 15:04

Curt Sunshine wrote:
06 Jan 2018, 14:07
Elder Packer never said, "Fake it 'til you make it" - and that wording would have been repulsive to him. He especially would have been horrified at the idea of attributing any kind of brainwashing suggestion to himself and his words. He said that a testimony often is found in the bearing of it. Those are two very different things, when interpreted as he surely meant it, given everything else he said throughout his life.
I know it wasn't exactly those words. I'm just really bad at remembering quotes and details. I think what Sheldon mentioned about was something more in the context of the scriptures, but I'm not really sure.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Sometimes our journeys take us to unexpected places. That is a truly beautiful thing.

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SamBee
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Re: How to Not Brainwash Myself

Post by SamBee » 06 Jan 2018, 15:07

I'm not a Packer fan for a variety of reasons, but I don't think he was completely off the mark on this one. Faked sincerity is not really possible, but conversely we don't need to be focusing on the negatives in the church all the time, particularly when those negatives are not big ones.

Yes, there are big issues with the church, hulking, big issues which cast a shadow on everything. But there are minor ones which can be a problem - what about that person who irritates you? You can either make up with them, grow to like them or even sideline them in many cases. And so on. Most of these can be sorted or ignored.

You can be sensible with your callings, and you can even get a TR if you are imperfect!

I don't have great feelings about tithing and the church's statement on gays horrifies me. However, I do know (see I'm getting into the church language now) that the church has made huge improvements to my life. It gives me a social life which is much less toxic than the one I have with non-church friends. It has given me practical help when I've needed it, and I also love giving service to others on occasion, and visiting the sick.

I can also say with absolute certainty that Thomas S. Monson was a man with a positive message of service. He repeated that message so many times, and as I point out above many of us have benefited directly from it.

I could get up on a stand and talk about all these positive things. It would sound like a testimony. In fact, it kind of would be one.

Even the Book of Mormon, whose origins are murky to say the least, has been a blessing to me in my time. It doesn't matter whether Lehi sailed to America. It does matter that I have gotten something from it. I occasionally read stuff on Mormon archeology, but it has little impact on its place in my life. I see the Book of Mormon as the words it has now. I also see that people had to fight for that book to survive or to be published - that is a fact, whatever its origins. The book has some things to say to us, probably most importantly (other than the main religious message) that we all participate a cycle of pride and fall, and that our mistakes can help us to learn and grow in some cases.
Last edited by SamBee on 06 Jan 2018, 15:10, edited 1 time in total.
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."

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Beefster
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Re: How to Not Brainwash Myself

Post by Beefster » 06 Jan 2018, 15:09

Curt Sunshine wrote:
06 Jan 2018, 14:07
Chances are there have been apostolic statements saying much the same thing (exactly or conceptually)
I remember one Jeffrey R Holland talk where he said "Do not pretend to the faith that you do not have, but be true to the faith that you do" or something really close. I definitely like that quote a lot.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Sometimes our journeys take us to unexpected places. That is a truly beautiful thing.

NightSG
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Re: How to Not Brainwash Myself

Post by NightSG » 06 Jan 2018, 18:37

Beefster wrote:
06 Jan 2018, 09:14
I think this is a bad way to seek truth, as it resembles brainwashing to some extent (bearing your testimony has a similar effect because humans have this interesting tendency toward believing things they say often).
I sometimes wonder if the Church stance on hypnosis ("under competent, professional medical supervision for the treatment of diseases or mental disorders" and specifically not for "demonstration," which pretty much says a LDS shouldn't learn to be a hypnotist) is because people would quickly notice that the whole process of "fake it 'til you make it" and constant repetition is a common workaround for a tough induction. (i.e. silently repeating the hypnotist's instructions to yourself, and going along with them until they start to happen directly)

Curt Sunshine
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Re: How to Not Brainwash Myself

Post by Curt Sunshine » 06 Jan 2018, 18:57

One way to make staying LDS possible, and perhaps even more joyful and/or fulfilling, is to recognize when something has been twisted out of its original meaning and to look closely at that original statement.

In that light:

Constant repetition also is a perfect (and, in some cases, exclusive) way to learn that is a keystone of education, generally.

I am NOT defending being disingenuous or dishonest. I never will. I also won't defend whispering words to young children as they "bear their testimonies" - since those aren't testimonies. I understand the issue with each and all of those things.

However, finding a testimony as you bear it is a normal, standard, non-controversial aspect of education, when you remove the spiritual aspects and charges of brainwashing. We talk all the time about how learning is best accomplished by teaching - by being able to articulate what one has learned. That is, linguistically, finding knowledge as you share / state it - not faking anything in the process.

Brainwashing is a specific process of removing something from one's brain (washing it clean) and filling that brain with something else, with accompanying isolation, fatigue, stress, pressure, etc. Notning whatsoever in Elder Packer's actual quote comes close to brainwashing, and he was never a proponent of faking beliefs.

On a personal note to beefster, I apologize for derailing this thread. I hope we can drop this particular issue as the primary or only focus and respond more comprehensively to the entire post.
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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Beefster
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Re: How to Not Brainwash Myself

Post by Beefster » 06 Jan 2018, 20:04

Curt Sunshine wrote:
06 Jan 2018, 18:57
On a personal note to beefster, I apologize for derailing this thread. I hope we can drop this particular issue as the primary or only focus and respond more comprehensively to the entire post.
I appreciate this comment and I would like to see more about the rest of my post. After some introspection, I've realized that the fear of brainwashing is not my central fear or driving motivation of the conflict. The other parts of my post (like romance) are legitimate concerns of mine.

I think the deep underlying issue is that I don't feel like I belong in the church. It's a lie I've subconsciously told myself and a lie I have believed. So I suppose my fear of being brainwashed reflects a discomfort with a lie I have told myself without even realizing it. I feel I should go into more detail in another thread.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Sometimes our journeys take us to unexpected places. That is a truly beautiful thing.

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SamBee
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Re: How to Not Brainwash Myself

Post by SamBee » 07 Jan 2018, 10:00

NightSG wrote:
06 Jan 2018, 18:37
Beefster wrote:
06 Jan 2018, 09:14
I think this is a bad way to seek truth, as it resembles brainwashing to some extent (bearing your testimony has a similar effect because humans have this interesting tendency toward believing things they say often).
I sometimes wonder if the Church stance on hypnosis ("under competent, professional medical supervision for the treatment of diseases or mental disorders" and specifically not for "demonstration," which pretty much says a LDS shouldn't learn to be a hypnotist) is because people would quickly notice that the whole process of "fake it 'til you make it" and constant repetition is a common workaround for a tough induction. (i.e. silently repeating the hypnotist's instructions to yourself, and going along with them until they start to happen directly)
There are a lot of other issues with hypnosis. One is the creation of false memories - of childhood abuse, past lives, alien abduction etc. The other is the loss of a degree of free agency. Some also say it is a gateway to demon possession.

Some subjects never snap out of it.
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: How to Not Brainwash Myself

Post by Roy » 07 Jan 2018, 10:02

Beefster, you will eventually find a wonderful woman, fall in love with her and have those feelings returned. The euphoria and motivation of that is hard to overstate. Someone will find you wonderful and will desire to commit the rest of her life to standing by your side - wherever the journey takes you. I believe that you owe it to this future relationship to be yourself - not transparent but certainly not misleading or deceptive. Give this person a chance to know and love the real you.

On that point, I personally would probably be willing to date some non-member girls. Because, 1) I think it would be hard to find LDS girls that would be open to a non-temple marriage and 2) because you might want to give them (non-members) the chance to be considered for their own positive qualities and not disqualified because of what church they were born or not born into. I think the most important thing is that whomever you marry is because you and your spouse choose each other - not because of pressure from the church or your mom. You and your wife get to live with the marriage that you build together - make it your own.

Regarding your mother specifically. It sounds like there is no way to avoid disappointing her forever. Might as well start now. I am not advocating for a big "coming out" moment or such. Just live your life to the best of your ability. You honor your parents (even if they don't realize it) by being the best Beefster you can be.
"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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