My question, and this will sound rhetorical but I'm asking sincerely, what are people so afraid of hearing that they don't even want to listen? Are they afraid to doubt? Afraid of losing their testimony? Is it all so fragile that they can't hear even the slightest dissent?
I understand the need for some people to see things black/white. Why can't they deal with the slightest gray, even just to listen?
I've been thinking about this lately because sometimes in this position alot of us are in, the onus is on us to "deal correctly with the TBM's". It feels very one-sided at times, I have to find my way, while they get to just keep on doin' what they're doin'. Sorry, that was a little vent.
We all have differing levels of understanding, not to mention differing levels of wisdom.
I once sent my TBM in-laws a link to a blog that had a spoof on anti-mormonism. It started with a titillating blurb about Mormonism being a 'cult' but then on the next page talked about Webster's definition of 'cult' and ended up being quite humorous and turning the accuser's point on its head -- showing that Mormons are not really a cult, in the colloquial sense of the word. I thought it was hilarious.
My Father-in-law said he didn't read it; that he couldn't afford to take a chance to lose his faith. Now, truly, this good man is the salt of the earth. A more sincere, intelligent, righteous man you couldn't find. He's just amazing. And so even though I regret that he's not going to 'get' the humor, I have to respect his effort to keep his faith where he wants it to be.
And I think I know his struggle. The Spirit has worked with me to teach me what looked at first to me to be 'heresy' -- things that necessarily cause me to doubt certain aspects of my TBM faith. I had refused these earlier in my life, and I found that the Spirit stopped working with me for a time, stopped giving me 'further light and knowledge' as taught in the temple, until I was willing to listen and accept the promptings. It's a scary thing, though, and pretty much unacceptable unless you've dabbled in Fowler's stage 4 a bit.
It's dangerous though, because if you *haven't* been in stage 4 up to then, well. It's a whole new world. If you're not emotionally healthy than it can be quite a ride, even a dark ride. And what's more, I don't see any need to force anyone down that path. A TBM that is full of faith in the institution (stage 3) can do miracles and bless many lives. The only risk is if they can't progress down the road --- but who am I to say where on their path they must make a change? I think people get what they need, when they need it.
Anyway, I'm babbling now... John's comment is good, too. I am quite different in my views from where I was 20 years ago, and even though I get a bit vocal about Church history in my adult Gospel Doctrine class, I *don't* get all universalist on them. They shouldn't have to get that from a rogue Sunday School teacher, IMO.
Men are not moved by events but by their interpretations.
-- The Stoic Epictetus