Why the Church abuses

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nibbler
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Re: Why the Church abuses

Post by nibbler » 11 Jun 2017, 05:01

I think we should be careful with how we label something as being abuse or not being abuse. Wasn't that one of Bill's points, that people have the tendency to hijack someone else's story?

To step away from the context of church, let's say that one climate is viewed as being the perfect climate. Polar bears and fennec foxes aren't suited to live in the same environment. Polar bears in the Sahara, what's your problem? The desert is the one true climate. Fennec foxes in the arctic, what's your problem? The arctic is the one true climate.

One of the points that was raised is that any time there's a society (in any type of organization) that believes there's one perfect way that there are going to be people in that society that won't fit in. There are people in that society that will insist that things are fine the way they are, that the people that don't fit in must find a way to do so. Over time the people that don't fit in may find themselves on the outside looking in.

The process of losing one's tribe isn't pleasant, it hurts, but one party wasn't solely responsible for the transition. The tribe continues to do what tribes do but what about the polar bear in the Sahara that started heading North? What about the fennec fox in the arctic that started heading south? It hurts to leave polar bear and fennec fox family and friends, especially when they do what tribes often do. "Oh, look at that polar bear heading north, they didn't have the fortitude to stick it out with all the rest of us in the true climate of the Sahara, they're going north to sin, etc." Perhaps the leaders that have the largest influence in the direction of the culture of the tribe are all fennec foxes and truly can't understand what the polar bear's problems are. Meanwhile the polar bear that headed north loses family and friends... but by the time they left they weren't allowed to go to weddings anymore and they didn't feel welcome anyway, so they left figuring they had nothing to lose in heading north.

But those types of things are to be expected, right? Is that in the nature of all tribes, what makes a tribe a tribe? Is there a better way that stage 3 organizations are capable of living?

Again I revisit the idea of intent and guilt. When we talk of abuse do we tend to think it always has to be accompanied by intent?

Probably not the best analogy but...

Is it like when a snake sheds its skin? The snake needs to shed it's skin as a natural part of the growing process but (I don't know that it does but let's pretend) the process hurts. Did the snake's old skin abuse the snake during the shedding process? Maybe. The snake's old skin also protected it in days past and the pain only started when the snake grew large enough to where it no longer needed it. The pain endured while shedding the old skin was unavoidable. A natural process.

I think that's at the root of a lot of this trauma. A natural, unavoidable outcropping of what happens when you have exclusive authority tribes. When we write our stories we want to find out what's at the root of our pain. One of the stops along the way can be looking back on the tribe to play that role in our stories. There are other stops.

Gah, look at the time! My fennec fox meeting starts soon. Gotta run. Will revisit.
I hereby place an order for one cheese pizza. -nibbler

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nibbler
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Re: Why the Church abuses

Post by nibbler » 11 Jun 2017, 05:19

The fennec foxes and maybe even momma bear are going to get upset with my tardiness but I wanted to get a few more thoughts out:

People that feel abused in this manner by the church probably spent years or a lifetime abusing themselves because they didn't fit in... and in ways that have NOTHING to do with living standards or righteousness. Once they start giving themselves permission to be different I think it's only natural to look back on those years of self abuse for not fitting in and believing that a lot of it was driven by the church culture itself. E.g. "It was them that were insistent that I not be me."

Parting shot before my meetings:

There's no reason there can't be a stake of zion in the Sahara and a stake of zion in the arctic. In days of old we were asked to relocate from our places of living to gather together in the Sahara but now we ask that you gather where you are. Build up stakes of zion in your native lands. Enlarge the tent.

That was a metaphor BTW. ;) Maybe it's time to no longer turtle up into one true personality/culture. Maybe it's time to enlarge the stakes of zion by being a little looser with the Mormon cookie cutter pattern.
I hereby place an order for one cheese pizza. -nibbler

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Reuben
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Re: Why the Church abuses

Post by Reuben » 11 Jun 2017, 06:37

I think those are good analogies, nibbler.

I also think I might be especially sensitive. The pain of losing faith is still fresh (relatively), I have young children who are getting these divisive messages at church, I've always had a hard time fitting in, I was emotionally and physically abused by my peers from grades 2 to 10, and I'm feeling disconnected because I just moved to a different country. I want a tribe and I probably need a tribe, but the tribe I belong to doesn't want the real me. I'm not that good at pretending. I crave being direct because being indirect is so tiring.

On top of that, the Church has drawn my daughter back in to believing the party line on marriage wholeheartedly, using good feelings and a horoscope. She now really wants to marry a man but doesn't think she can have sex. She talks to her mother about things because she's afraid to talk to me. Part of that is my fault. The other part is that she feels threatened by my unorthodox opinions. (I've told her I don't believe the Book of Mormon is historical.) The Church has abused her, and is going to keep abusing her.

I don't want the Church to drive wedges between me and my children, but it's already doing that. It does it with each passing day. Why haven't I come out as an unbeliever to them? Because I feel like I have to act so carefully. I don't want to hurt them, but of course that's inevitable. Why would saying what I believe hurt them? Because the Church has taught them that it should - though not so directly as stated. Mostly, I don't want to alienate them from me, or from their tribe - who are basically all Mormon. The "my way or the highway" rhetoric at Church threatens my family's well-being.

Who else has to act so carefully? Who else has to check all their words and say things in exactly the right way so that they don't lose their relationships? Who else has to pretend so hard to be everything someone else wants them to be?

Children who grow up with emotionally abusive parents. This is why I call it abuse.
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Re: Why the Church abuses

Post by Ray DeGraw » 11 Jun 2017, 07:04

"We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men . . . unrighteous dominion."
The interesting words are "we" (not others), "sad experience" (personal experience), and "almost all" (inside and outside the Church).
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

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.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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LookingHard
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Re: Why the Church abuses

Post by LookingHard » 11 Jun 2017, 11:45

Reuben - Very good insights. I do think this explains a portion of some behaviors.

I would say I also struggle if "abuse" is quite the right word in all cases. I see it as certainly clearly abuse in some cases, but many other cases it is not morally good behavior and does cause some trauma, but I am not sure I would call it "abuse."

I ABSOLUTELY have to act/talk carefully - at least until I am ready to come out more and face the consequences. My delay deals with kids. Right now would really mess with their social lives (nearly 1 in the same with church). I don't want my change of faith to hurt them if I can avoid it, so I will delay a few years and at least for me, that issue will pass. I feel for others younger and don't have that option.

And with my wife I have told her I don't believe but I am very careful about what I say around here. Partially in that I really want to support her in staying in the church as she wants that. But part I know what would trigger her and I stay away from that to preserve the marriage. I do know of some non-believers that really push hard on their spouse, just as some TBM's push hard for their non-believing spouse to just believe. Neither is good. Neither works.

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Re: Why the Church abuses

Post by Minyan Man » 11 Jun 2017, 13:39

I have had an experience lately where I was on the receiving end from a neighbor that lives in our neighborhood.
He is what I would call a fundamentalist christian. He believes in the bible, word for word. Anything outside of the
bible is not accepted or tolerated. So He asks questions about what our church believes. Recently the question was
temple work for the dead. He asked if I could provide a written copy of what the church teaches.

I found something from LDS.org, printed it out & gave it to him. A week or two later he calls me and asks if I can come
over & talk. He had the article I gave him & started tellings where our beliefs where wrong according to the Bible.
Everything was underlined or highlighted. Everything was wrong about our church.

I stayed quiet & politely listened. Then I couldn't take anymore. I was polite. I didn't yell or jump up & down.
I asked if he did this with all of our neighbors. We have a very diverse neighborhood. Jews, Catholics, Jehovah's Witness,
Muslims, Atheists, etc. I ended by saying, in the end there are going to be may surprises once we get to the other side of the vail.
I basically use the same approach at church. If I have a question or comment at church, I make it. I can do it politely.
(Most of the times.) When I can't I apologize & repent during Sacrament.

Lately my tactic is to do FH teaching (one on one) during SS. That avoids problems too.

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Re: Why the Church abuses

Post by Ray DeGraw » 11 Jun 2017, 13:47

Oh, and just to say it to everyone, Elder Montoya's article really is awful.

Frankly, I would avoid it if you haven't read it already. It isn't worth the time you will spend, and we all know some people just don't get it. This is an example of that cluelessness.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

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.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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DarkJedi
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Re: Why the Church abuses

Post by DarkJedi » 11 Jun 2017, 14:02

Ray DeGraw wrote:
11 Jun 2017, 13:47
Oh, and just to say it to everyone, Elder Montoya's article really is awful.

Frankly, I would avoid it if you haven't read it already. It isn't worth the time you will spend, and we all know some people just don't get it. This is an example of that cluelessness.
I agree it's awful. It's sort of like saying to a diabetic dying of thirst with only sugary drinks available "don't be thirsty." That may not be the best analogy, but the gist is, don't doubt.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

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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Roy
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Re: Why the Church abuses

Post by Roy » 11 Jun 2017, 14:49

I really like Nibbler's analogy of the polar bear going off to the North (must be a secret sin).

This reminds me of some previous threads about similar topics.

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=2474&hilit=+organizational+abuse

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=5088&p=70644&hilit= ... use#p70644

Essentially that organizational abuse exists in every organization that must balance the needs of the many with the needs of the few.

However, I believe that there are definite limits between comparing abuse occurring in human relationships and organizational abuse. For example organizational abuse occurs when the freedoms of an individual are curtailed for the good of the group. Therefore someone that is fined by the city for having an overgrown lawn is experiencing organizational abuse. Much more extreme, someone that is wrongfully imprisoned because our justice system isn't perfect is also experiencing organizational abuse. It seems to come with the territory of operating within a society.

That is not to say that we should just accept it. I believe that societies that protect minority groups with "human rights" are taking a huge step against some of the uglier and malicious versions of organizational abuse. Thankfully, we live in such a society.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

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Re: Why the Church abuses

Post by Ray DeGraw » 11 Jun 2017, 17:11

My comments have been focused on the "Why?" in the title. Let me share a few examples from my professional life over the past eight years:

1) I worked for a very small college that was established to serve students who love the outdoors, generally, and winter activities (skiing, snowboarding, etc.), particularly. Everyone bought into their mission, and rich donors in the area kept the doors open each year through tax-deductible donations. Over 40 years - an operating shortfall each year - tax write-offs and passion kept it going.

They finally decided to balance the budget - so they eliminated some positions, gave some people double titles and responsibilities (with no additional pay), and finally asked everyone to take a 5% pay cut until enrollment growth allowed them to achieve a net profit surplus. I was hired; we did it; they had a surplus for the first time in their history. Did they restore the pay cuts? No, they asked for one more semester to make sure it was sustainable. Made sense. We did it. Still no restoration. One more semester was needed, especially since they needed to build a new residence hall for the additional students. They eliminated my position, even though my work was one of the keys to the surplus, because they had someone above me who was willing to do my job for a while and save the college my salary and benefits.

It was dishonest, abusive, and manipulative. Why did they do it? The President was a sleazeball who took advantage of people's passion but actually didn't care about them. Those who were tied to the area had no real choice; those who weren't captive to the area left. They hired replacements for those who left. Eventually, the leader was caught literally with his pants down and had to leave.

2) I worked for a religious educational institution. The previous leaders had been all about respect, universality, community, etc., but the new leadership did not share this orientation. They had grandiose visions and were convinced those visions had divine origin, so they spent and built based on an assurance that they were doing God's work. They began to focus almost exclusively on recruiting members of their own religion and moved solidly away from the founding mission.

Their aggressive spending resulted in an extremely tight budget, with more debt than the previous leaders had been willing to incur. That brought financial pressure, which led to staffing cuts and multiplying responsibilities. They began to abuse their employees in ways that wouldn't have happened previously. They hired aggressive zealots and promoted them, even though they almost all lacked experience in their areas. They didn't know what they didn't know, so they violated regulations and did truly ignorant things for the industry - things that were poorly planned, hurriedly implemented, and that wasted lots of money.

I don't know how that one will end, but many people have jumped ship over the past few years - and many of those people were long-term, hardcore believers in the previous leadership philosophy and vision. They loved the institution; they simply couldn't handle the new focus and the abuse it produced.

3) Just to separate the next part from the previous stories, I am making it #3. The LDS Church abuses because it is a human organization, subject to the "almost all men" statement about unrighteous dominion. By and large, the membership and leadership are good people. They are not egregious abusers - in any aspects of their lives. There are far too many natural abusers, but, as a percent of the whole, they are quite small - even tiny. The issue is the institutional pressure to fulfill what is seen as a divine mandate.

Divine mandates excuse and justify actions that are not in harmony with ideals. Add in leaders with naturally aggressive personalities and/or black-and-white worldview, and abuse naturally occurs - even when those who abuse would never abuse if they realized they were doing it. This is multiplied in smaller units, like branches, where there simply aren't enough people to do everything that is "normal" - and too many leaders won't follow the top leadership counsel to scale back and minimize in those smaller units.

The biggest abuse I see is of the membership's time. The second I see is with Bishops who accept tithing and other offerings but refuse to provide fast offerings until the members have exhausted all their resources. The only true highest level abuse I see is a widespread lack of awareness and public voice against what happens at the local level - and the necessary insulation within such a large organization from the bottom. There are aware leaders who speak about these things. Ironically, Elder Packer was one of the most vocal. Pres. Uchtdorf is another. Elder Bednar is not.

4) How do we address it? In truly extreme, harmful situations, we separate from the abuse. We avoid abusers; we change congregations, even though that is discouraged; we might even stop attending completely. With less extreme, more "natural" abuse, we either ignore it (if it is relatively harmless) or openly call it what it is. In those situations, however, we need to try to discuss it as precisely and as graciously (in a grace-based manner) as possible. We go to the person and tell them we are sure they don't realize the effects of their actions, but . . . If that doesn't work, we go to a leader and say it to them. If necessary, and if we know of others being hurt, we go as a group to the leader. If that doesn't work, we remove ourselves from the abuser to the greatest extent possible.

Why does the Church abuse? Because it can't help it, just like, to varying degrees, neither can we. No organization can avoid abusing, and few individuals can do so completely. I know I can't, so I try to be as charitable as possible without enabling truly serious abuse.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

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.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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