The Mormon growth model

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Gabe P
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by Gabe P » 04 Apr 2009, 13:14

Morzen - I read your last post again and I may not have fully understood what you're saying. To clarify, let me ask you this: in your experience, the Church is based on assertions that are substantially or entirely untrue. In your experience, the leaders of the Church fall short of our common expectations of decent people, much less competent leaders. You also seem to suggest that others have had a much different, much more positive experience. In light of all this, would you argue that those who have had a positive experience in the Church are deceiving themselves to get gain in relationships and status? Would you argue that they're basically good people who've been deceived by leadership? Or would you argue that they're just not really capable of understanding the real truth about the Church, whatever that may be?

And what would you do about that? Do you think that we should actively disabuse people of beliefs that are working for them on the basis of our belief that their faith is misplaced?

Morzen
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by Morzen » 05 Apr 2009, 21:45

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Last edited by Morzen on 04 Jan 2010, 17:31, edited 2 times in total.

Gabe P
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by Gabe P » 05 Apr 2009, 22:48

Morzen, that's fair. Your post deserves a real response and I'll do that when I'm not dog tired. I definitely understand where you're coming from a good deal better.

You're certainly not wasting our time, and I hope we're not wasting yours.

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HiJolly
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by HiJolly » 06 Apr 2009, 06:56

Morzen, I hope you'll pardon my intrusion on this conversation. I agree to much of the factual observation you have mentioned in your post. Members of the Church vary widely in their attitudes, capacities and character.
Morzen wrote:You can’t tell me that the Mark Hoffman affair and other issues where not for the reasons other than to hide and keep information from getting to the general membership.

"You can't tell me..."? I know that's just a figure of speech, but it seems a tad confrontational, you know? And while I support your need to express yourself freely, I think the less confrontational we are, the more possible it will be to get comments and ideas from the other folks on this web site. The breadth of knowledge, experience and wisdom found here is just remarkable, and I'd hate to see anyone avoid leaving a comment due to a confrontational tone. I agree with you that it is easy to have the opinion that the leadership ('the Brethren') :o were trying to avoid negative publicity and such. I think they were trying to keep the Church's best interests foremost and 'protect' the membership. What I find interesting is the negative or conspiratorial fears expressed by some on the topic. I think your next comment is very interesting in that regard:
Morzen wrote: The “peep stone” translation process, which is now out of the bag, is another example. I would love to see or know what is in the church’s safe.

After bringing forth the Book of Mormon, Joseph and Oliver agreed among themselves that whenever referring to that process of 'translation' (or channeling, or whatever...) that they would simplify the explanation to these words: "The Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God." Which leaves open a vast array of possibilities without lying or misrepresentation (unless you believe it was a fakery and fraud, which I personally doubt -- Spaulding, View of the Hebrews, 'peep' stones and 'spiritual eyes' notwithstanding).

So you're right, it's now "out of the bag" after being 'hidden' since day one. Sort of.

You could look at it in another light, from another angle. Why did they prefer to call it "the power and gift of God" rather than the "use of a peep stone"? Why did so many people in that day believe in 'peep stones'? Were they all deluded, or gullible, or stupid? What about Greece and their pantheon of outrageous Gods? That they really believed in them is supported by evidence. How could the cradle of modern civilization, science, philosophy, mathematics and such, believe in such obvious nonsense? Were *they* stupid or deluded? I think not. I think there is much that is not obvious to us, in our intellectual, sophisticated ways.

When I read the opinions of various scholars and religious pundits on this topic, the width and breadth of credulity and hubris is amazing. I personally had to step back and ignore all the editorializing to cut through the murk. I had to go to original sources only, and ponder them in light of my own personal experiences, my own personal views. When I did that, the mocking and incredulous tones seemed to dim. *my* truth became more clear.
Morzen wrote:There are many people like that, and like I said, there are a lot of members who just don’t care to know anything beyond their pedestrian, church lifestyle.

Like I said before I really do agree with many of your observations. This is a valid one, for sure. Sad.

Well there is more that can be said, but I've got to get my day on. I'm glad you're here, Morzen. This is a good community that isn't afraid to acknowledge the difficulties in the Church and in our lives. Please stay with us!


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

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Brian Johnston
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by Brian Johnston » 06 Apr 2009, 08:29

This has been a really excellent discussion so far. It gets at the heart of what we are all here for.

This statement stuck out to me as I was reading through everything:
Morzen wrote:It is also about investigating and questioning the founding claims of the LDS church, which because of the increasingly mounting evidence, seem to indicate that they very well may be bogus.
Like others have said a few times already, you don't end up here without knowning this is a problem. We know. This same problem is at the core of every religion. The greatest minds in the history of the world have contemplated and autopsied the foundational claims of religion. Will you and I be the ones to discover the smoking gun? Will we be the ones that finally put all the pieces of the puzzle together? Somehow nobody else has been able to figure it out before us?

We all figure it out. It isn't right to spoil the ending of the story :D . Nobody needs the right book, or the "real" truth to be discovered from secret vaults and archives. God will call to each one of us when it is time to take this journey.

People will see their own reflection in the statements I made above. I can say for sure, without a shadow of doubt and with all the fiber of my soul that I do not know the truth ;) .

Yet here I am, an even bigger believer in religion (edit: and Mormonism) than before I started. I'm just not the same person anymore. What changed?
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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Tom Haws
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by Tom Haws » 06 Apr 2009, 09:08

Morzen,

I have hope that this is resulting to be a safe and productive discussion for us all. I hope you feel among friends and allies. I am thankful you are here. Sometimes those of us who have been on these forums a while can get so we appear a little TOO jaded or comfortable to lurkers, which we sincerely wish were not the case. You are helping us remember and keep alive that "there are no academic questions; everything is emotional to somebody."

Valoel,

Your last post is a classic. You are becoming an effective mystic teacher, which is something inward that all of us can aspire to.
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 » 06 Apr 2009, 10:02

Morzen,

I think you raise a real issue that's kind of in the background for all of us. The fact is that the Church is not what it claims to be (or, at the least, that we honestly and sincerely believe that the Church is not what it claims to be). This could be a result of flim-flamming all along, flim-flamming in the beginning, or a historical accident of major proportions. To the extent that we were all TBMs who accepted the correlated history, you're right that we were tricked, either by leaders, ourselves, or by sheer inertia.

You're also right that you don't just walk away from a life's investment, even when you know about the issues we're talking about. Suppose you find out your wife of thirty years has been cheating on you: you don't just stop loving her (I would assume - I've neither had a wife nor lived thirty years). So you've got to make hard decisions about everything in your life, including friends, family, and institutional roles at church.

Do I think we're being actively tricked? Yes, kind of. I definitely think the Church is going out of its way to encourage members to read history that is sanitized at best. We even write some of that history in lesson and CES manuals. I think the Church allows the average member to believe things that they probably know to be untrue. On the other hand, I don't think there's a massive fraud being perpetrated from the top down. For one thing, it's just really hard to keep something like that secret. Suppose it's only the Q12 that know it's a lie. That's still a ton of potential leaks over a ton of time. I have to think something would have been likely to turn up by now. I nevertheless think that the vast majority of the Church and even the vast majority of high end leadership is mostly sincere in wanting the best for the members of the Church. I also think that the leaders of the church honestly believe it's a divine project. In my view, the Hoffman affair and other similar situations reveal the extent to which the leaders of the Church have doubts and lack the power that most of us (and, honestly, they as well) ascribe to them.

So I guess here's what I would say. I agree with the substance of your original argument that the Church will eventually need to shift its emphasis in order to retain some members. I don't know if that's necessary to maintain growth: I think it would probably cause the demographic shifts that I was initially talking about. I don't think we're being tricked as to the basics: I think the Q12 believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that the Church has been restored to the earth. I do think we have information that indicates that, at the very least, the picture is a lot more complicated than they're teaching. I also think we have to decide what we want to do with that information. For me, I'm willing to stay, but on my own terms. I'm not going to act as if the Church is exactly as the institute manuals say, because it isn't. But I've put in a great deal and as one recent introduction on the site affirmed, I've also been given a great deal. I'm not leaving or repressing my beliefs just because Boyd K. Packer doesn't want me to be a cafeteria Mormon. I've paid my money and I'm taking my choice.

Thanks for coming by, Morzen. I hope you stay. I'm looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts.

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by hawkgrrrl » 06 Apr 2009, 11:47

I'm not leaving or repressing my beliefs just because Boyd K. Packer doesn't want me to be a cafeteria Mormon. I've paid my money and I'm taking my choice.
This is how I feel, too. We each have to take responsibility for our own beliefs.
Do I think we're being actively tricked? Yes, kind of. I definitely think the Church is going out of its way to encourage members to read history that is sanitized at best. We even write some of that history in lesson and CES manuals. I think the Church allows the average member to believe things that they probably know to be untrue. On the other hand, I don't think there's a massive fraud being perpetrated from the top down.
I mostly agree with this statement. I did a post a while back on Mormon Matters about white-washing, and I still feel as I did then. There is white-washing, but some people are prone to white-wash everything in order to be "faith-promoting." There are valid reasons to white-wash, but there are also negative consequences for doing it. Personally, I say let it all hang out. But I understand that an open approach to things that are not cut & dried also has a downside. All history is subjective, whether positive or negative, whether considering the viewpoints of the now dead or the now living.

Here's a link: http://mormonmatters.org/2008/06/24/white-washing/

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Tom Haws
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by Tom Haws » 07 Apr 2009, 07:00

hawkgrrrl wrote: I did a post a while back on Mormon Matters about white-washing, and I still feel as I did then.
Nice post. A person or organization that holds itself up as the custodian of all the answers puts itself in a special realm of responsibility and accountability. It's a dangerous place to tread.
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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hawkgrrrl
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Re: The Mormon growth model

Post by hawkgrrrl » 07 Apr 2009, 10:43

One of the things I found interesting in considering the topic of white-washing (that I didn't fully elaborate when I posted that) is that there's such a tendency for individuals to white-wash their own history that it has an impact on overall historical views. Each person is the hero of his or her own story. Likewise, we perpetuate this somewhat unconsciously by white-washing things with which we are associated. Some people do this more than others. Their doctor is the best, their kids are the smartest, they went to the best school, they drive the best car, their company is the best in its industry, etc. It's a human trait.

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