The Mormon growth model

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Tom Haws
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by Tom Haws » 01 Apr 2009, 21:41

It's my earnest hope that the church grow toward Zion. I really appreciate Ray's and Gabe's recent points:
Gabe: "My concern is with how our growth, attrition, and the way in which either occurs will impact the real situation on the ground. So I don't necessarily care if two thirds of the world could be LDS tomorrow, but I would be concerned about the impact of that influx on the experience within the community. Major changes like that don't tend to leave the situation on the ground unchanged."
That expresses my core belief about this subject. Get those people into the church for social reasons, and the church will change. I smile every time I think of Sister X at church in slacks or hear an Elder Perry talk on Walden Pond.
Ray: "kingdom of God always being relatively small right until the end"
It's kind of neat that we have the concept of the church of the Firstborn.
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
----
Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

Gabe P
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by Gabe P » 01 Apr 2009, 22:14

Ray, that's a totally awesome point that I'd never considered at all. It's sort of a weird thing: we all interpret the numbers to mean whatever the heck we want them to mean for the future direction of the Church. Mostly, I guess I'd just like to see the Church liberalize, but I don't want that to happen at the expense of giving up a unique LDS position. So, if being better on the gay issue means refusing to be assertive about our beliefs, maybe I don't really want that tradeoff.

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by hawkgrrrl » 02 Apr 2009, 11:18

Gabe P, so many thought provoking questions!
Do you really believe that there's inevitably or even usually a trend toward a more progressive leadership?
Yes, if for no other reason than that the culture in which we are raised influences our world view. Frankly, we talk about being "not of the world," but we go to movies, we have iPods, we watch Lost, and we shop at Target. We are not Amish. Even the Amish have made huge changes in the last 15 years due to population growth in nearby cities, technology explosion in communications especially, and the need to remain competitive.
I agree with you about the gerontocracy, but I also doubt that the young will necessarily be more progressive than the old.
I agree that there are some young in the church who are old beyond their years, but "progressive" means many different things. Even the conservative young in the church are much more progressive in their views on women (even those who are secretly sexist will be sued into the next millenium if they try that crap at work), their global awareness (thanks to the internet), and how pushy they are about how other people should live their lives (social conservativism, which has mixed feelings in the church at best, often with half-hearted compliance except among the most rabid).
After all, most significant changes have followed situations where a practice or policy was beaten out of the Church.
But don't confuse the small church of yesteryear (polygamy & blacks) with the global church of today. Even in 1978, the church had fewer than 3 million members worldwide. You can't control what happens at the grass roots level in a church of 13 million in the way you can when the church was more insular with a higher % of members in one small state in the U.S.
The vast majority of the rank and file in the Church are conservative to a fault and the process of being promoted to leadership screens for conservatism at every turn.
This is actually not my experience. I grew up in a very vocally liberal ward in Pennsylvania with most of the leaders coming from academia. In my current ward, there are people from both sides of the divide, but most conservatives are just in it for the tax breaks, not telling people how to live their lives. Most members I know would still claim that the church doesn't get involved in politics (Prop 8 notwithstanding). There is definitely a very vocal population of staunch social conservatives in the church that are loud enough to sound like the majority, and they absolutely think they are the majority. Leadership positions are screened, not for conservativism, but for: 1) activity, 2) tithing, 3) family stabillity, and 4) inspiration on the part of the person extending the call. Is it possible that a staunch conservative will think a more liberal-leaning person doesn't meet #4 as a result? Perhaps, but the field is already narrowed considerably by #1, #2, and #3.
So my concern is that the force for change in the Church is likely to be smart people who know better, but they're less likely today than they were in the time of Talmadge to get in line well enough to rise to leadership.
Smart people might have insight, but that doesn't make them agents of change. Culture is set at the local level. Change happens at the grass roots level. It may not be felt at the top, but we don't live at the top. People in the church often have great flexibility in interpreting things, and different leaders emphasize different things. We follow the leaders we like.
Additionally, there's a threat to the growth model if we move to a more liberal path as well.
I think there is truth to that, but I also think that there is a balance of voices in the 12 if you listen. They may use Mormonspeak, but they aren't all talking about the same things in the same ways.
I see no reason why they won't be stuck in the 50s, if only because being stuck in the 50s is probably good for most of the Church.
Here I can't agree for two reasons: 1) the 1950s they are stuck in never existed. If you want a glimpse of the 1950s, watch Mad Men (alright, that was the 1960s, but you get the point), and 2) living in the past (especially one that never existed) is never as relevant as living in the present. However, aside from the Church Office Building, I don't see this as a very real threat to the lay members. The lessons have a strong emphasis on sharing personal experience which does some interesting things: 1) keeps us firmly rooted in the present, and 2) mythologizes our own life experiences. We become the hero in our own spiritual journey, and that becomes a stronger narrative than the experiences of others who are not directly involved in our lives.

Morzen
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by Morzen » 02 Apr 2009, 19:50

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Last edited by Morzen on 04 Jan 2010, 17:33, edited 2 times in total.

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Brian Johnston
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by Brian Johnston » 03 Apr 2009, 06:11

When talking figuratively about people as "heroes" in the story of their life journey, we're not normally talking about the idealistic, purely good, comic books style of heroes in modern pop culture. That kind of reference usually refers to the classic literature style of tragic, flawed hero.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

Gabe P
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by Gabe P » 03 Apr 2009, 07:27

Morzen, I don't necessarily disagree with what you're saying: there are a lot of people who aren't getting what they need from the Church and it seems you were one of them. But you do seem to suggest that most active members of the Church haven't had their faith shaken because of self interest or socialization. Now, I might be willing to agree with that position to an extent, but I don't necessarily think that having your faith shaken or being inactive is any more noble. Just to take the most obvious example, we've probably all known someone who was inactive or less active for no reason other than laziness. My ability to stomach church in return for tangible and intangible rewards doesn't make me a better person than him, but it also doesn't mean that he's somehow more noble because he wanted to catch the Braves game.

In addition, I'd suggest that there are often selfish and impure motivations for being a nonbeliever. I experienced one of these firsthand at my most angry period. I'd show up at church from time to time, sneer at people from the back row, and congratulate myself on being able to see the man behind the curtain. I also didn't have to do the things that a believer would have to do, either in a material sense or in terms of my spiritual practices.

So I'm not trying to say that believers are more noble than nonbelievers. What I am trying to say is that we're all motivated by socialization and self interest (to some extent, probably large) and that our vision of "the truth" is probably colored by that more often than not. A cynic might well be more noble than a believer, but it's not simply because he's a cynic.

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Tom Haws
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by Tom Haws » 03 Apr 2009, 08:40

Morzen wrote:that is a paradigm shift that will increasingly promulgate the concept that we should concern ourselves more with the fact that the church is “good” instead of “true.” Eventually the church may be forced to adopt that position....
Yes. I am very comfortable with that. And It is a natural thing that will gradually happen. We will mature and realize we need not to say, "Bring all your truth and see if we can add to it." (Like Pres. Hinckley said), but to say "Bring all your truth and see if we can add to each other." (Like Ray said in another thread.)
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
----
Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

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HiJolly
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by HiJolly » 03 Apr 2009, 09:04

Morzen wrote:Apr 2, 2009

Hawkgrrrl said:
“We become the hero in our own spiritual journey, and that becomes a stronger narrative than the experiences of others who are not directly involved in our lives.”
That is a very attractive sounding concept. So just as “I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning,” I would ask first of all, “How does this concept liken unto me?”

Just so. Very good!
Morzen wrote:To be sure, I have had a spiritual journey in the LDS church, but I am not the hero in the story of that journey; it was more as if I was a disenfranchised, marginalized, vilified, abused victim.

Here's where you differ from Hawkgrrrl --- She's saying, and I agree, that you are indeed the hero. Who can be a hero without opposition and difficulties?
Morzen wrote:It wasn’t always like this, of course, but it’s not how a story begins that we focus upon and remember, but rather in how it ends. All too often I have seen many sad chapters, and consequently sad endings in the personal life stories of various members of the church. So “heros”? Oh sure, no doubt there will always be a certain number of those who would suppose themselves to be such in their own eyes, and those of their adoring fans right up until the end of their “book”, but what about the 80% or so of the other stories, i.e., those in the church who are not fully active or are even totally inactive?

If these don't consider themselves the 'hero' of their story, they should. They *must*. Else life is a waste, Satan/Lucifer/the Accuser wins. Yech. The totality of life is not what happens to us. Those are just the starting points.
Morzen wrote:Or perhaps you need to provide a definition for what you mean by “hero.” In fact, I may think of myself as a hero now for having survived as a member of the church for as long as I have. My wife certainly does. Or I may think of myself as a “hero” for finally taking charge of my own life and leaving the church, to a great degree, and finding a more excellent way for me to grow spiritually. Perhaps I am the Martin Luther of my own hero story by finally coming up with the courage to nail a copy of “95 Theses” of my own conclusions to the door of my LDS religion’s “Wittenberg Castle Church” if not literally (I am not that much of a hero, just yet), then at least within the boundaries of my own personal life.

Exactly; now you're talking in the sense that Hawkgrrrl is speaking. If I may be so bold as to presume...
Morzen wrote:The point I am attempting to make (although feebly) is that “experience(s)” is a broad, crowded street with a lot going on in it, and I don’t think that there are too many people who can continually not see what is going on. But they can ignore what they see, hear or intuit is happening. Hence, I would venture to say that a lot of current, so-called, active members of the church choose not to focus on what may intimidated them, or “shake their faith,” because it is not in their best interest (relationships, positions, employment, etc) to do so. So perhaps they are really cowards, or dishonest actors in their stories instead of heros. Or perhaps they only want to take a “bit” part as an “extra” because they don’t have any desires in getting too emotionally or intellectually involved in the production of the story, be it theirs or anyone else’s.

No one has a 'bit' part in their own story. Like it or not, that is the truth. It is always in our best interests to pursue truth. How we do it, what damage we cause to others and ourselves in the pursuit, what love we express as we pursue truth, these things give us the opportunity to be heroes or villains. If we choose not to pursue, we await another day in which we eventually will. We cannot avoid it forever. And this is right, in the eyes of God. To all things, there is a season.
Morzen wrote:But your thesis is also based upon the notion of “a strong emphasis on sharing personal experience” and I suppose that’s the rub. As long as currently active members maintain a high level of involvement in their LDS community (temple nights, leadership and other meetings, etc) then that activity will be the catalyst for the “sharing of personal experience,” which will in turn insulate them from any detracting elements, notwithstanding how germane and correct those elements may be.

So, you believe that the hypocrisy and shallowness of other members are not 'detracting element(s)'? Hmmm... I would differ.

And I would suggest that regardless of our surroundings, if we are open to truth and thus consciously invite the Holy Ghost into our lives, then He at least will show us our own error and untruth. If we address those needs in our lives, the fruit will be substantial. The greatest changes/purity needs to happen in our own selves. Other groups, organizations and people have their own process for the same.

Motes and beams, I suppose. Can we look upon the imperfections of another justly, if we have not seen and dealt with the same within ourselves?

HiJolly
Men are not moved by events but by their interpretations.
-- The Stoic Epictetus

Morzen
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by Morzen » 03 Apr 2009, 23:45

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Last edited by Morzen on 04 Jan 2010, 17:32, edited 2 times in total.

Gabe P
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by Gabe P » 04 Apr 2009, 13:09

Well, OK, I can't tell you that the LDS framework is for you. You're best qualified to make that decision and it seems that you already have. I wish you the best. My issue was never with that. What bothers me is your argument that many (most?) active members of the Church are motivated by self interest and willful blindness while decent people outside the Church are motivated, as you are, by love. Is that really your experience? If it is, I can't deny you your journey. If you think the Church is making people worse, you should leave and never look back. If I were to ever draw that conclusion, that's exactly what I would do. It seems, however, that your view of LDS truth claims has shaped your view of the motivations of LDS people, and I don't know that that's appropriate.

Look - we're all here because we've realized that, at least to some extent, the LDS Church is not exactly what it claims to be. Some of us might think they're consciously lying, while others might think they're honestly wrong about some issues. If we believed absolutely everything the Church says about itself, we wouldn't be on this site. On the other hand, I also think that most of us can at least give LDS people credit for being basically as decent as everyone else. So we're trying to reconcile all this: we know the Church isn't perfect, we know that some of what the Church is saying isn't right, and we know that there are policies and practices that bother us now. We also know that we've had good spiritual experiences in the Church and that most of the people we know are pretty good and honest people who are doing their best. So we're trying to figure out what to do with all that. If you haven't had any good experiences at all and don't think most people are honestly trying to do what's right, then I'm not sure why you're wasting your time with us or the Church.....

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