How far outside the box, and stay LDS?

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Rix
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How far outside the box, and stay LDS?

Post by Rix » 29 Apr 2010, 16:12

I know this is an all-encompassing, nebulous question...but I'd like to try anyway, and get other's thoughts. The question says it all, but I'll get more specific to focus your thoughts.

Here at the forum, we talk of "crisis of faith," "transition," etc., as a turning point in our belief system, presumably as it applies to the LDS Church. I've read comments through the months I've been here that some may not have a 100% conviction of the literal historicity of (particularly) foundational claims...where maybe at one time "we" did.

So to start the discussion here, how much can you "disbelieve" and still be comfortable staying LDS? For example, can you believe Joseph may not have physically done all the things that are claimed in the JS story...and stay LDS?

Can you believe the BoM is fiction, and stay LDS? Or even the Bible?

Can you consider God to be either non-existent, or not a perfected human as most Mormons believe (ie, a guiding force, or energy...but not a "person"), and stay LDS?

Those that have read my thoughts here know that I believe it IS possible, but I would like to know how far outside the box YOU think one can be, and still stay LDS...

:?
Überzeugungen sind oft die gefährlichsten Feinde der Wahrheit.
[Certainty (that one is correct) is often the most dangerous enemy of the
truth.] - Friedrich Nietzsche

God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It's as simple as that. -- Joseph Campbell

nightwalden
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Re: How far outside the box, and stay LDS?

Post by nightwalden » 29 Apr 2010, 17:51

I think you can be as far outside of the box that you want as long as you are still open to the possibility that there is a box. I think that you can be 99% certain that God does not exist, JS is not a prophet, the BoM is fiction, etc as long as you are open to the 1% chance that you are wrong. If you are not open to being wrong about your dissenting beliefs then I don't know how feasible it is to stay LDS.

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Rix
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Re: How far outside the box, and stay LDS?

Post by Rix » 29 Apr 2010, 18:11

nightwalden wrote:If you are not open to being wrong about your dissenting beliefs then I don't know how feasible it is to stay LDS.
Hmm, first, thanks for the comment, nightwalden.

My first reaction is, does a person have to "hope" it's true (literally), or is it okay to view as metaphor? For example, if one likes a fairytale...like Cinderella, and a "church" is built around the story, do all the "members" have to believe it all happened literally, or can "we" be a social/culture group and support each other with the messages of the story being our foundation?
Überzeugungen sind oft die gefährlichsten Feinde der Wahrheit.
[Certainty (that one is correct) is often the most dangerous enemy of the
truth.] - Friedrich Nietzsche

God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It's as simple as that. -- Joseph Campbell

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just me
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Re: How far outside the box, and stay LDS?

Post by just me » 29 Apr 2010, 19:41

You don't know how many times I have nearly started this very thread! Thank you, Rix. You are so awesome!

<sigh> I really wonder this. So, I guess I don't have an answer for you. But I'm feeling itchy...like I need to shed my old skin and be my new self. Whatever that means. Can I do that without making any external changes in my life? How many external changes can be made while staying LDS?

I think the answer must be different for everyone. That kinda sucks because it means I have to dig deep in me for the answer and ya'll can't just tell me what to do.

The problem I see is that I can believe in the symbolism and mythology, but the dogma and authority has fallen away for me. Obviously authority and certain core beliefs are very imporant in the LDS church. The manuals also teach that certain scripture stories mean certain things. If my interpretation of each and every story is completely different where does that leave me? I dunno.

Rix, I am more interested in HOW you stay LDS!

Oh, and there does seem to be a line in the sand as to what you are able to think, say and do while remaining LDS. We could point to examples of people who have been excommunicated. However, even they can continue to attend quietly. To me staying LDS is more than attending as an ex'd member, though.
Most of us, sooner or later, find that at critical points in our lives we must strike out on our own to make a path where none exists.~Elaine Pagels

Ultimately, you are the path-the path begins and ends with you.~Stephan Bodian

He who think he knows, doesn’t know: He who knows he doesn’t know, knows.~Sanskrit proverb

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Re: How far outside the box, and stay LDS?

Post by flower » 29 Apr 2010, 20:16

just me wrote:You don't know how many times I have nearly started this very thread! Thank you, Rix. You are so awesome!
Ditto. I will be keeping my eye on this thread to see what others have to say. This is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. There are a few big things that the LDS faith is built upon, and differentiates us from other Christian faiths... the First Vision/Godhead, the B.O.M, temples, and living prophets. So... what if I have little to no testimony of the truth of any of these things? I am to the point where I know I can call myself a Christian, but do I even have the right to still consider myself LDS? What exactly does being a Latter-Day Saint mean? I feel like such a phony. I stay because I love my family.
"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." ~Rudyard Kipling

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nightwalden
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Re: How far outside the box, and stay LDS?

Post by nightwalden » 29 Apr 2010, 20:33

The main reason for what I said is the communion with other members. Without being able to connect positively with those around me, I don't know how much value there would be in church. I think that it would be really difficult to love and respect those around you at church if you cannot respect their beliefs. But I guess that it would be possible to see the value in and respect beliefs that you completely reject.

Personally, I just couldn't see myself being able to do it. I sometimes have a difficult time at church because I don't understand how some people can believe the things that they say they believe. If that difficulty extended to a lot of the foundation beliefs of the LDS church then I don't know if I could stay LDS. For me, being able to say "I don't know for sure" helps me immensely. Another thing that helps me a lot is viewing everyone as equals including the church leaders. Giving the same amount of weight to Monson's beliefs as I do my friends' helps me to not feel that my beliefs are oppressed by anyone.

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Re: How far outside the box, and stay LDS?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 29 Apr 2010, 21:28

I have good friends and close family who are literalists, so they stay LDS - since the overall paradigm fits into Mormonism and the LDS Church. (in their minds)

I have good friends and family who are figurative-ists, so they stay LDS - since the overal paradigm fits into Mormonism and the LDS Church. (in their minds)

I have good friends and family who are a combination of literalist and figurative-ist, so they stay LDS - since the overall paradigm fits into Mormonism and the LDS Church. (in their minds)

I'm not sure how to classify myself properly when talking of literalist and figurative-ist. I'm dead center in the middle of the box with some issues, just inside the edges on some, just outside the edges on lots and WAY out there in space on lots of others - and the "seriousness" or "importance" of the issue isn't much of a determining factor in where I am with relation to the box. (Seriously, if I am open to the Messiah/Christ concept being allegorical and symbolic, I'm not exactly inside the box on the most central issue.) So, I stay LDS - since the overall paradigm fits into Mormonism and the LDS Church. (in my mind)

Here's the bottom line for me:
Whether I stay LDS or not is MY decision, damnit, and so if I can feel I "belong" in the LDS Church, ain't nobody gonna convince me otherwise.


If part of that means I don't go looking for a fight with people who disagree with me about certain issues - if part of that means I have to exercise charity to a higher degree than many around me - if part of that means I need to bite my tongue off occasionally (and not do so at other times, but rather respond thoughtfully and mildly and softly in order to not cause a confrontation) - if part of that means I have to attend and participate enough to build the social capital necessary to be taken seriously and respected as a member of the community - if part of that means I need to be more orthoprax to balance my heterodoxy - so be it. Creating the proper balance for ME is up to ME, and it has taken decades to become what I've become within the Church - a visible leader, at least at the local level, who can express heterodox views and have orthodox members listen to and think about what I say.

Not everyone has to be where and what I am to stay LDS. It's important to me to be in my position, since it allows me to have an impact on a broader scale than if I was in a different position - but THAT'S ME. It doesn't have to be any other individual. Someone else can bend a little less than I choose to bend, if she or he doesn't want to be where and what I am. There's no "better" or "worse" in that discrepancy; there's only what "is" for each person.

I'm totally fine with my own perspective, since it works for me. When I was released from the High Council in my former stake (when we moved, just after I'd been on the HC just long enough to move to the old farts side of the room), my Stake President thanked me sincerely for my "unique perspective" in that group. I'm not sure my current Stake Presidency knew what they were getting themselves in for when they extended my current calling, but they are going to find out soon enough - and all I hope for is that when I am released they say the same thing that was said in OH. Either way, if I stay in this calling for years or months, it's not going to affect whether I stay LDS or not - since I don't give that power to anyone.

So, how far outside the box and stay LDS?

However far I want to be.
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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cwald
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Re: How far outside the box, and stay LDS?

Post by cwald » 29 Apr 2010, 21:38

flowerdrops wrote:.. the First Vision/Godhead, the B.O.M, temples, and living prophets. So... what if I have little to no testimony of the truth of any of these things? I am to the point where I know I can call myself a Christian, but do I even have the right to still consider myself LDS? What exactly does being a Latter-Day Saint mean? I feel like such a phony...
Yep. That's my story. I feel like a hypocritical phony. Those on this website might be surprised if they knew what callings I currently have in the church - and I'm not ready to talk about that at this time. It is such a challenge for me to attend church - because I can't just sit in the back and "not say anything." It's just one day at time dealing with this "crisis of faith." I get grouchy on this website, I admit, but I had gotten to the point where I honestly believed I had NO CHOICE but to leave the LDS church. I really didn't know how I could continue living the "lies" any longer ---- until I stumbled onto this website. And I am grateful that I did. It has helped me to put things in perspective. The consequences to myself and family of just packing up and leaving the church would have been tragic. This website has allowed me to stay LDS, not because of how I feel about church culture and what I know of church doctrine and history - but in spite of it.
  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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Re: How far outside the box, and stay LDS?

Post by Heber13 » 29 Apr 2010, 21:55

I think nightwalden makes a good point. I think it hinges on your desires and your behaviors. If you desire to stay, and your behavior is not disruptive, all are allowed to stay in the fellowship of the church (although social pressures may indicate otherwise, officially the church takes no stance to shun for differing thoughts).

I think it is ok to have doubts if you are trying to figure out those doubts or patiently waiting while things settle, with a hope that you can still make a difference at church, for yourself and for others. Even if ideas are "far outside the box", but you are not trying to disrupt others' faith or tear down the church, I do not see how you would be prevented from staying.

I was reading a FAIR article the other day that mentioned some things around this:
The Church of Jesus Christ does not have a formal concept of heresy (false belief), but only a concept of apostasy (false behavior).
...
While the Church does not actively seek out and target non-believing members, it does not always stand idly by when a member stops being a thinking non-believer and becomes a proselytizing non-believer. In other words, when a member starts publicly promoting ideas that seek to justify their non-belief or encourage non-belief in others, the Church is within its rights to separate those persons from the body of the Church, based on "open and harmful apostasy".
"Motivation, Behavior, and Dissension, by Allen Wyatt, FAIR, 2002.
So I believe I can stay LDS with a different interpretation of my faith, but continue in the faith to have a desire to keep learning and building up the ward with love, friendship, service, and also new perspectives that promote the spirit, like the orchestra concept we've discussed on this forum. And since that is my DESIRE, I think I can realistically stay. Once I lose that desire, I can remove myself. Or if I act out in public that I don't want to stay, the church can remove me.
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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Heber13
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Re: How far outside the box, and stay LDS?

Post by Heber13 » 29 Apr 2010, 22:08

cwald wrote:I get grouchy on this website, I admit, but I had gotten to the point where I honestly believed I had NO CHOICE but to leave the LDS church. I really didn't know how I could continue living the "lies" any longer ---- until I stumbled onto this website. And I am grateful that I did. It has helped me to put things in perspective. The consequences to myself and family of just packing up and leaving the church would have been tragic. This website has allowed me to stay LDS, not because of how I feel about church culture and what I know of church doctrine and history - but in spite of it.
cwald, I think that is a great testimonial of the value of this site, and how we can support each other. While some other sites may be more appropriate if it is just "venting" that is needed, this forum is not really for that. A person may feel venting in the moment is helpful, and then they get over it...but those words are still on the site and others come by to read it and feel the site is promoting that thinking. Instead, I think the site is trying to do more of the latter part of what you talked about...helping see there are other choices, many that are less traumatic than "packing up and leaving". It is about moving forward with hope, not focusing on the past (history).

People need to hear experiences like yours to see that it is a real option, and one that works...not just someone telling them, "Go read and pray more about it".

Thanks for your example!
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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