What I Wish the Church Understood About Us

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mackay11
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Re: What I Wish the Church Understood About Us

Post by mackay11 » 15 Jan 2014, 17:01

I appreciated your post OON.

There's a deep sense of loss sometimes when I reflect on the certainties I once had and the sense of place and purpose that gave me. Sometimes I wish I could "un-know" the things that have lead to this conclusion.

I'm very fortunate that I attend a branch with a very good BP. He lets me be the way I want to be and supports me in it. I've shared a fair portion of my new perspectives (not all, and not the source... he's too good a friend to impose those things on him). If I'd stayed in my last unit I'm not sure how I would have dealt with it (a very "orthodox" leader).

I stay, not because I'm certain it's true, but because I'm certain it helps me be more good. I don't doubt that other places could also do that. Clearly, if there is a God, He's given many places and ways to be more good. But this is one that I like and the one that works.

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On Own Now
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Re: What I Wish the Church Understood About Us

Post by On Own Now » 15 Jan 2014, 17:22

Orson wrote:In my opinion a much more reliable statement is "my personal expectations and image of the church and past leaders was shattered." I think this type of statement can also go much further in discussions with the average faithful member. "The church isn't" is an offensive claim that will put up walls. Remarks about personal views can invite questions such as: "what expectations did you hold that could not stand up against your inquiry?" It is this type of meaningful discussions that will over time begin to change the landscape of our culture.
Well said. In fact, I never use any detail when I'm talking to believing members of the Church. My most common phrase is "I'm no longer a believer". When talking to non-Members I have used the term "non-practicing Atheist" to describe my faith.
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mercyngrace
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Re: What I Wish the Church Understood About Us

Post by mercyngrace » 15 Jan 2014, 19:12

nibbler wrote:I'll take it a step further. I think that the catalyst for my own personal faith crisis was the result of being too vested in being a fully faithful member of the church. That is to say that if I were more relaxed (not so strict in my obedience) my faith crisis may never have happened.
I couldn't agree more. My husband, an adult convert who was raised Catholic, is only now beginning to understand the level of disillusion I've felt over various issues. He simply doesn't have the baggage of accepting the church or it's officials as infallible (his childhood theology notwithstanding). He was used to a church history peppered by mistakes made by men, sometimes inspired, sometimes guided by their own mortal thoughts and desires. We were just raised with completely different approaches to organized religion.

I also think people who tend toward idealism are prone to disillusion when they come up against the hard realities of just how imperfect the church is. Of course, I could be generalizing my experience, but my husband is much more pragmatic by nature and he seems to do okay. I've become more pragmatic over the years, but I would still characterize myself as an idealist, which means I focus on what *should* be rather than making what *is* work. It means dealing with a perpetual sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo.

Rambling...

Does that make sense to anyone else?
Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. ~ Luke 7:47

Curt Sunshine
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Re: What I Wish the Church Understood About Us

Post by Curt Sunshine » 15 Jan 2014, 19:25

Absolutely, mercyngrace.

I describe myself as a pragmatic idealist - meaning I am an idealist at heart but I realize ideals generally are not reached, so I accept the best that actually can be as my goal. That allows me to strive TOWARD an ideal but not require reaching that ideal to be happy. As long as I'm contributing to advancement, I can be at peace with slower movement than I'd like as an ideal.
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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.

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Ann
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Re: What I Wish the Church Understood About Us

Post by Ann » 15 Jan 2014, 20:37

On Own Now wrote:
I wish the Church understood that it is bleeding not just people, but very good, stalwart members of the Church. I wish the Church understood that it is often the Church itself, rather than the member, that is the catalyst for the "fall". I wish the Church would spend some time looking in the mirror and asking itself hard questions about certain topics like gender roles, defense of polygamy, infallibility of leaders, hard-line stances on same-gender issues, and black & white thinking. One thing in particular that I know from listening to the voices here is that many or most of us still want to find spirituality or an opportunity to make a difference for good. It's a shame that the Church gets so dogmatic that it forgets those essential tenets of why people seek out God.

I do see signs of progress, but it is way to slow to stem the tide of the tens of thousands of really good people that will leave (physically, spiritually or emotionally) in the next decade.

I don't know what the answers are. But I do think that the Church has an enormously valuable resource in us that it leaves untapped, while guys in white shirts ask themselves why we are "losing our testimonies", and then answer to themselves that it is because of a "lack of faith". There is so much good in the Church, but also so much completely unnecessary baggage.
On Own Now - Thanks for this post and for being the last one out of the StayLDS kitchen on many occasions. Tone-deaf was another word you used further on, and that's a hard one to fix. You can't hear what you can't hear.
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"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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cwald
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Post by cwald » 15 Jan 2014, 21:26

Eventually we need to stop blaming the local leaders and the members, and start placing the blame on the institution itself.

Yeah, that would be a monumental day for the church.

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nibbler
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Re: What I Wish the Church Understood About Us

Post by nibbler » 16 Jan 2014, 05:59

On Own Now wrote:Obviously, we all formulate our opinions based on our own observations. In the 20 years of my faith transition, in which I have been very open with local church leadership... number of Stake Presidency members that have have asked me what the Church could do differently to help people like me (aside from helping me to get my faith back): 0. Number of Bishopric members: 0. Number of Elders Quorum leaders: 0. Number of ward members: 0. Number of home teachers: 0. I don't believe they are interested in seeing it from our perspective, only from theirs.
Yes, it's been my experience that a BP or SP will often approach any given problem in the same manner: 1) Are you attending church? 2) Are you reading your scriptures? 3) Are you praying? It really doesn't matter what the nature of the problem is, the questions nearly always get asked.

Maybe local leaders are trained to always ask those questions, maybe they ask them because they're following the example they've seen for so long, maybe they ask those questions because in the majority of cases getting people to a place where they can answer those questions in the affirmative has led to a resolution of whatever issue the member was experiencing; no idea, it is what it is. I liked the honesty in church0333's comment:
church0333 wrote:I can't read the BofM much anymore because without faith the book just doesn't ring true, let alone even plausible and after studying what critics say about the book, the more I read it the more I feel the it was a 19th century work of fiction. The same thing with the D and C, how JS made up stuff to get people to do what he wanted or to promote his ideas.
A long time ago I went to my local leader with my issues and I felt exactly the same as church0333 with respect to the BoM. Without fail I was asked: How is your reading in the BoM coming along? to which I replied: Every time I read it I only see the faults. I didn't relate this but at the time I only saw evidences that the book was fiction when I read it, the more I was coerced to read the more the resentment toward the book grew.

So what didn't the church understand about me at the time? They honestly believe that if a person would just read more from the scriptures that they would feel the spirit and regain their testimony. One solution fits all.

Quickly going back to the three questions:
1) Are you attending church? 2) Are you reading your scriptures? 3) Are you praying?

The focus is on what the member is not doing and when that becomes the model for ministering to the saints it's easy to see how we get into the mindset where we think that people with issues are sinners, led by satan, seeking mammon, etc.

What an utterly depressing post I've put together. The positives... the positives...

So where do we go? How do we change? How could leaders better minister to us?
I will say that I have had some very good leaders and I'm trying to think how they interfaced with the conundrum that is me. I've probably got the best BP in the church right now, so that helps. I know that I'm loved no matter what. In him I've seen that his priority is people with policy and programs coming in at an extremely distant second place. In fact they probably got lapped a few times. Maybe all BPs/SPs would do better by not knowing what's in the handbook.

So I didn't really address the issue. What could the church have done to help me? Honestly, what you all here have done for me. The problem is that our voice is often labeled apostate, suppressed, or relegated to a corner. How will people going through a FC get the help they need if the light is hidden under a bushel?

I also think that the church's approach is to get people to go back to where they were before, it's how a stage 3 organization/person would interact with someone in stage 4. They see a person in stage 4 as someone that has regressed when in reality they have moved forward. Stage 4 stinks, I think getting out of it entails letting go of some anger and bitterness and rediscovering love in life... and all of those things are well within the mission of the church. The tough bit is that someone in stage 4 probably no longer wants help from the church. I know I wanted to be alone to work through things. Maybe the counsel should be give space, show love, and be patient.
The wound is the place where the light enters you.
— Rumi

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DevilsAdvocate
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Re: What I Wish the Church Understood About Us

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 16 Jan 2014, 08:13

On Own Now wrote:I don't know if the Church really understands why people like us "fall away" (their term). I believe most faithful members, when the see an empty pew that was formerly the realm of a member of the Church, they assume that the person "lost their testimony" and attribute it to sin, lack of faith, personal offence, etc...Although I don't expect it, I think the Church could learn a lot by trying to figure us out...I wish the Church understood that for many that suffer a faith crisis, it was something that they neither sought out nor expected...I came to a point where I realized that the Church was not what it claimed..and that was a tearful realization that hit me like a sucker punch to the gut. I have since tried earnestly to make a go of it. I tried for a long time to talk to people that could help me overcome my doubts. I tried to read the BofM, I tried to pray, I tried anything that could help. In prayer, I begged God to show me the way, and I got silence in response to my pleas...I didn't "drift away". I didn't "lose" my faith or my testimony. I didn't "fall into sin". I wasn't "led away by Satan". I wasn't overcome by "the cares of the world". Most importantly, it wasn't my choice...I wish the Church understood that it is bleeding not just people, but very good, stalwart members of the Church. I wish the Church understood that it is often the Church itself, rather than the member, that is the catalyst for the "fall"...
I think the historical essays they are publishing now and talks in recent years like Holland's about the Book of Mormon, Uchtdorf's about how we should "doubt our doubts", and Cook's "Can ye feel so now" show that they are well aware of a significant number of members that are not completely on board with what the Church teaches. What they need to realize is that many if not the majority of disaffected members are never going to "repent" and regain a traditional LDS testimony and they often only put up with the Church as much as they still do mostly for the sake of their relationships with remaining faithful members. So in cases like this any hint of the idea that we are broken and need to be fixed mostly adds to the problem on both sides. It is aggravating to many disaffected members that already feel like they are doing fine with their current beliefs and/or they can't really believe anything different than what they already do and it also encourages some of the remaining faithful members to have unrealistic expectations and judgmental and disrespectful attitudes toward members with different beliefs.
Last edited by DevilsAdvocate on 16 Jan 2014, 08:25, edited 3 times in total.
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Orson
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Re: What I Wish the Church Understood About Us

Post by Orson » 16 Jan 2014, 08:18

nibbler wrote: Maybe the counsel should be give space, show love, and be patient.
Yes, yes I think that is a big part of it. I would also like to see more confidence that truth will cut its own way, it doesn't need extra help. We can get so attached to our traditions and image that we are afraid to move forward to the further light and knowledge.
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DarkJedi
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Re: What I Wish the Church Understood About Us

Post by DarkJedi » 16 Jan 2014, 09:46

DevilsAdvocate wrote:So in cases like this any hint of the idea that we are broken and need to be fixed mostly adds to the problem on both sides. It is aggravating to many disaffected members that already feel like they are doing fine with their current beliefs and/or they can't really believe anything different than what they already do and it also encourages some of the remaining faithful members to have unrealistic expectations and judgmental and disrespectful attitudes toward members with different beliefs.
Agreed. I am not intimately familiar with all churches, but I was Catholic before I was Mormon, and I have over time looked into other Protestant churches and at Judaism. None that I am fairly familiar with require the same type of dogmatic adherence to every bit of doctrine, and for the most part they are quite comfortable with the idea that people don't necessarily believe or agree with all of it. They really only seem to care that people believe in the core values of the church which is mostly a belief in Jesus Christ (Judaism excepted, of course). As is alluded to by some on this thread, the church is getting the point in size and geographic dispersal that it needs to come to grips with the idea that not every one of the millions is going to believe every bit of it. Again, I do think some in the hierarchy of church leadership do understand it, but I don't think they do a very good job at getting the message out.
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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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