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Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Posted: 07 Jan 2015, 05:51
by DarkJedi
Man in the Arena wrote:I know not everyone here is in the same boat as me, but it's difficult to go to church every Sunday and listen to teachings about the Church and the restoration that you don't believe anymore. It's not even the mental gymnastics that you've got to make at church to be a believer in the Church, I've given up on even attempting the gymnastic exercise. I used to teach and somewhat enjoy it, but now I wouldn't even know what to say. It's really tough for me and rather depressing. I wouldn't know how to be authentic when speaking or teaching if I was in a position to teach (especially the correlated version or mandatory topics and lessons). I feel adrift like I'm on a boat with a bunch of people who keep saying "the night time, is the right time." It's hard to be authentic when being authentic means telling them, no... no it's not .

I guess that is why my strategy has been... silence.
I have been in that boat and still am sometimes, brother. I have learned to deal with it to an extent by telling myself that 1) they're good people just trying to do their best just like me and 2) I was once like them (hat tip to Jacob Marley). This strategy do not always work, and sometimes just not being a part of it is the best course of action for me - and that's why I don't usually go to Sunday School and sit near the door in priesthood.

Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Posted: 07 Jan 2015, 07:24
by SilentDawning
I have found that my strategy differs based on my objectives and the power relationships involved.

At work, where I have very little power, I can't be authentic about much given the leadership style of the people. To do so would likely land me out of a job. As a music production impressario (something I do part-time), I've found I can be more authentic with people, particularly when they try to walk all over me, or make me work myself to the bone for their benefit. I've been authentic with musicians, clients, you name it, and it's absolutely necessary. Plus, in those situations I have more power and can be that way,

At church, my strategy used to be silence, and still is in many contexts. But as people have been asking me point blank questions about my commitment, I've been more open. But focusing on how I feel about program quality, treatment of volunteers, and general service, and cultural matters that have been less-than-helpful to my family. Not on doctrinal issues or anything. The items about which I have been authentic -- and only in private conversation, are matters that could be "reversed" as part of a recommitment effort in the future if I wished.

And of course, I no longer have desires for leadership in the church. I have found outlets in other avenues for that. At one time that was not the case -- so I was very careful about what I said. Now that I don't care, I can be more open, while still being respectful of the beliefs of the people to whom I'm talking.

In my family relationships, I have to be careful about how authentic I am, as it can damage the relationship irreparably. Is it wise to point out to your wife that she's gained weight? Is it wise to be open about how you question if the church is true and tithing is worth it to your kids who have only a developing belief structure in their lives? And send mixed signals when you don't have anything else to give them belief-wise, as a holistic system? I don't believe so either.

I do believe this -- authenticity that is offensive to people, particularly made in public, is something I will avoid like the plague.

Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Posted: 07 Jan 2015, 09:31
by Heber13
Being silent is being authentic. I know I disagree, and I know it won't help to voice my opinions, so I'm authentically going to listen to what others have to say on the subject.

Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Posted: 08 Jan 2015, 13:20
by Curt Sunshine
Silence absolutely can be authentic - and charitable, which is just as important.

Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Posted: 08 Jan 2015, 14:31
by DarkJedi
Oh yes, silence does work for me, too. It doesn't work very well when I'm the speaker or teacher, though. Related to silence, whoever, is what I don't say - but that's part of the original question. Using prayer as an example again, there could be a lot I don't say because I don't have much to say about prayer as a non-believer in it. It's hard to fill 20 minutes with not saying things sometimes.

Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Posted: 09 Jan 2015, 20:16
by Man in the Arena
I've been thinking a lot about this topic, because maintaining authenticity is key to me staying in the Church. If I can't, then it is time to cut the cord. At the risk of hijacking the topic, perhaps a better question is what things can I do in the Church that allow participation but allow someone like me to maintain authenticity? (this is a rhetorical question). If I'm going to stay, I've got to be involved somehow (authentically).

The key to maintain authenticity while speaking or teaching is controlling what you teach or speak about, which in many cases may lead to silence or the inability to respond to the call or the request to teach or speak. You can be authentic and still be tactful while teaching or speaking. But, if in order to maintain authenticity you have to be so circumspect that it is painful to maintain authenticity, then maintaining authenticity probably requires silence in order to be respectful.

Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Posted: 09 Jan 2015, 21:31
by hawkgrrrl
I practice two things that are really important:
1) take an anthropological stance. Listen and be interested as an observer in what people are saying that you may not agree with. Ask why they think that. You don't have to swing at every pitch. I find it fascinating. They generally can tell that you don't necessarily agree, but you also don't have to be argumentative with them either. I truly try to be interested.
2) keep a sense of humor about yourself and your point of view. Sometimes you can just laugh something off with your disagreement. I remember a lesson in which people were talking about BOM stories they liked and someone said that she liked the story of Ammon chopping off the arms at the waters of Sebus, and I had to laugh about that. I said c'mon she's a doctor, doesn't that seem like a campfire story someone has embellished? Nobody died from loss of blood, but their arms were all chopped off?? Gimme a break! I think because I was laughing, she didn't really mind that I was basically saying the story sounded fabricated.

Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Posted: 10 Jan 2015, 12:03
by DBMormon
I try to be authentic. I feel i have enough capital to speak my mind, so I do. I haven given talks about seer stones, figurativeness of the gospel, leader fallibility, being a mormon doesn't raise your chance of salvation, etc.... I am pretty bold and while a few from the older crowd are rubbed the wrong way a little, most of the younger crowd say how happy they are with what is said.

Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Posted: 11 Jan 2015, 05:48
by DarkJedi
DBMormon wrote:I try to be authentic. I feel i have enough capital to speak my mind, so I do. I haven given talks about seer stones, figurativeness of the gospel, leader fallibility, being a mormon doesn't raise your chance of salvation, etc.... I am pretty bold and while a few from the older crowd are rubbed the wrong way a little, most of the younger crowd say how happy they are with what is said.
I, too, have been capable of doing this to an extent and have never gotten any pushback. Quoting GAs really helps. That isn't really the issue. The issue is that I have been assigned a topic that I really don't believe in, and on top of that I really have some things I'd like to say to the ward I'm speaking to (some have a bit of an issue with being inclusive, IMO). I think I do have enough cred to be able to say "I've been assigned this topic and I am going to talk about it but first I'm going to talk about this other thing" (probably stating it much less bluntly and in reality focus on the other thing). Again using the example of prayer (even though that's not the topic), I could not stand before a ward and say "I know God hears and answers all prayers" because I don't believe that on multiple levels. Yet the expectation would probably be that I testify of something along that line and many other things about prayer I may or may not believe.

As the time draws closer I will likely post a specific thread asking for input on the actual subject, for now I am just looking for general input because I recognize this is going to happen again. I do appreciate all of you have have shared. I like Nibbler's idea of an accessible place where we could easily find information on the more sticky subjects.

Re: Authenticity when speaking or teaching

Posted: 11 Jan 2015, 12:24
by nibbler
Is it a talk or a lesson? When there's no interaction it's much, much easier to take the message in the direction you want to take it. :twisted:

Hey, once I got assigned a talk on "using the BoM as a missionary tool." The assignment came at the worst possible time for me, I wasn't too keen on either. If they found a way to work the BoA in there they would have pushed three of my buttons at the same time. They had Ctrl and Alt down, they just needed to add the Del to those and... *poof*. ;) I ended up talking about the stories in the BoM that focus on mercy and how many people really need to hear that message.

Hopefully there's some wiggle room in there for you. Good luck.