Speaking up in class

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Always Thinking
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Speaking up in class

Post by Always Thinking » 14 Feb 2018, 17:31

Hello, all. So I'm in a new place in my faith transition where I feel like I need to try and speak up in class more in order to stand being there. I am a quiet person and tend to have a hard time making comments, but sitting through lessons, even the few times I go, and NOT saying anything has become more difficult. Now I want to be clear that I don't want to be antagonistic with my comments. I want to do things like correct misconceptions or stop false doctrine or ideas from being spread. I do not believe anymore that this is the true church, I see it as just any other church and am only attending from time to time to make things easier on my husband. Btw, he has already said he thinks it would be cool if I spoke up in class, so no problems there for us if I speak up and make my views more known in the ward. As a woman, I don't see many bad repercussions from this. I won't be stopped from baptizing our kid or giving blessings or anything. I also don't care about the temple anymore so I don't plan on getting my temple recommend removed. So the only bad repercussions I see as a possibility are social ones. Which I currently feel like I can handle.

I plan on getting into a very relaxed and focused state before church so that I will be able to think clearly and not react emotionally with the comments I make. I think this will make it easier to make sure I don't make comments that I will regret. I would love to be one of those people that help the quietly less orthodox to know they're not alone. Do any of you do this or have you attempted it? Any tips or suggestions? Since I'm probably going to leave the church someday, I feel like I may as well attempt this way of being a member for a while since I'm still stuck going. Who knows? Maybe I'll enjoy it and it will give me a reason to stay. Any advice is much appreciated!

zmadel2
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Re: Speaking up in class

Post by zmadel2 » 14 Feb 2018, 21:05

I had a Gospel Doctrine teacher last year that did a wonderful job with this. Some members would go off on rants about so-called "doctrine" such as how it is never okay to go shopping on Sunday, and the teacher would stop them before they could go very far. For me, it was a breath of fresh air. It sounds like you want to be respectful to the TBMs in the room (which is great), so I would say proceed with caution and maybe ease into it. Make one or two comments the next time you go and then build up to being the one keeping the sanity.

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dande48
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Re: Speaking up in class

Post by dande48 » 14 Feb 2018, 21:50

Just a couple of thoughts:
- Remember why you're speaking up. Helping the unorthodox members "stay LDS" and not feel so alone, I think is a very noble goal. Keep that in mind when speaking up. On the other hand, I don't know about you, but at times I feel like I have a lot of negative feelings towards the Church and certain gospel doctrines. Sometimes there are things I REALLY want to say, "tell it how it is", vindicate myself. It's easy to end up doing a lot more harm than help. It's good practice to check intent before speaking up.
- People tend to empathize with and agree with those who share common ground. They also tend to go into "fight mode" when their religious beliefs are challenged. Building up "church cred" can go a long way, when introducing unorthodox ideals.
-Sometimes it's better for a person to hold onto certain false beliefs, than to have their world shattered. To make the analogy to little children... sometimes it's best for them to have full faith in their parents. Their parents always know best. Their parents will always be there for them, and keep them safe. Their parents will never let them down. Children need to believe that everything will be okay. These are all very good things to believe in, when your a child. They are good things for most adults to believe in. But in reality, parents make mistakes. They are selfish and argue. They are often too busy concerned with their own affairs. If you break down misconceptions before they're ready, they might never recover.
"Sir, it's quite possible this asteroid is not entirely stable." - C-3PO

AmyJ
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Re: Speaking up in class

Post by AmyJ » 15 Feb 2018, 06:35

My $.02

1. Keep it short - there is a reason why "less is more".
2. Ask Questions
3. Make it Personal - using humble, personal words such as "In my experience..." or "One of the things I have learned..." invites the audience into listening instead of preparing an argument.
4. Speak their language/Find Common Ground - Once your initial inventory is completed regarding which principle(s) of the gospel resonate with you, you can use them as a thread of meaning in conversation. I have had some interesting conversations and connections once I started my scripture studies on Charity - for me, this was something that would stand me in good stead even if there wasn't a God, and it uplifted those TBM's around me because they believe in this principle too.
At this point I don't have the same understanding of the afterlife as I used to. I don't know what is like, and I don't accept at face value the default Spirit Paradise/Prison paradigm. But I do believe there is an afterlife, and I can quote Alma 40:11 in good conscience "...yeah, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life". I am using this verse to convey that I believe in an afterlife with God, and the TBM is hearing that point - and adding their understanding of Paradise/Prison.

The last note I would make is know your leaders, the teacher(s), and estimate the social currency you have in the ward/branch. You ABSOLUTELY can provide a positive experience for others with your thoughts, questions, and comments - but it is wisdom to "mind the store" as it were and speak up on your terms. Leadership and Teacher roulette is real, and is a variable to be monitored.

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nibbler
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Re: Speaking up in class

Post by nibbler » 15 Feb 2018, 07:36

I feel like it's an art or a skill, one I don't have. It's easier for me to take the remain silent approach.

But you don't get better by not practicing and you don't get good at something without a lot of failures along the way. Every failure is a step towards success. You've got to give yourself enough space to make those mistakes because the mistakes are necessary if you're going to get good at something.

I've had some really bad experiences over the years to where I just stay silent. I'm a lot like you describe:
Always Thinking wrote:
14 Feb 2018, 17:31
... I feel like I need to try and speak up in class more in order to stand being there. I am a quiet person and tend to have a hard time making comments, but sitting through lessons, even the few times I go, and NOT saying anything has become more difficult. ...
There might be some value in reaching that place where there's nothing to lose. If you stay silent you can't stand being there and might eventually go inactive. If you open your mouth you may say something that makes people keep their distance. Either way you've got people at arm's length. You might as well speak up because that's one path forward where there's still some unknown.

I also struggle with the thought that I shouldn't speak up because the other people sitting in the lesson need to hear the lesson and be validated in their beliefs. That's part of why they are there, to walk the path that gives them comfort. Then you start to wonder how many people are attending the class that are in the exact same shoes I find myself in.

Good luck, I'm trying to feel this path out too.
The night stared me in the face, amorphous, blind, infinite, without frontiers. Not a single star relieved the darkness behind the glass.
― Stanisław Lem

AmyJ
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Re: Speaking up in class

Post by AmyJ » 15 Feb 2018, 07:42

nibbler wrote:
15 Feb 2018, 07:36
I also struggle with the thought that I shouldn't speak up because the other people sitting in the lesson need to hear the lesson and be validated in their beliefs. That's part of why they are there, to walk the path that gives them comfort. Then you start to wonder how many people are attending the class that are in the exact same shoes I find myself in.

Good luck, I'm trying to feel this path out too.
It is entirely equally possible that other people sitting in the lesson need to hear your comments on the lesson and be validated/uplifted/inspired in their beliefs because of you as well.

I think that it really comes down to an instantaneous cost-benefit analysis of whether what you would say would a) improve the lesson, b) expose you as a potential fraud in the eyes of others, and c) needs to be said or said by you (for a variety of reasons).

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Always Thinking
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Re: Speaking up in class

Post by Always Thinking » 15 Feb 2018, 08:15

Thanks everyone. These were some good points. I used to think I would never be able to do this, but as I am getting closer to the end of my anger phase, I find myself feeling strong enough and comfortable in myself enough to try it. I also, as Nibbler said, feel like I'm at a point where I have nothing to lose. I don't really want to attend anymore, but I am still going to help my husband, so I'd like to see if speaking up makes it more easy to be there. I also am becoming aware of how many members are quietly questioning and are afraid to speak up, and I would love to be a person who is able to say what they want to say since I have nothing to lose and they do. I like the idea of going into it slowly at first, and also making sure I frame it in a faith promoting light every time. I think that will help it be more easily received.

Roy
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Re: Speaking up in class

Post by Roy » 15 Feb 2018, 15:35

Some thoughts.

1) Don't do it. I find it difficult to make comments that do not betray my true feelings. Recently I was in a discussion where I was defending the JW church as being just as weird as we are. Objectively, I think Mormons are pretty darn weird in the scale of global mainstream religions. It went over like a lead balloon. Our weirdness is seen as truth. Their weirdness is seen as false and dumb. I betrayed my basic assumption in my comments. I feel compelled to contribute in classroom discussions but do not feel the same struggle with SM. Therefore one strategy for me might be to hang out in the hall or go home after Sacrament meeting.

2) Don't judge. One strategy that might help is if you tried to limit yourself to comments that reminds the class not be judgmental, that everyone is a work in progress, and that we cannot know the full story behind another's circumstances, etc. There is plenty of gospel "cover" on this topic and it is a cause that I can believe in.
AmyJ wrote:
15 Feb 2018, 06:35
3. Make it Personal - using humble, personal words such as "In my experience..." or "One of the things I have learned..." invites the audience into listening instead of preparing an argument.
Yes, I would change this to "humanize it" not personalize it. Perhaps say something like, "I have a fiend who ..." Struggles to feel included or welcome at church, was shocked and dismayed by church history revelations, or was treated badly in a church capacity. "What can I do or say to help her feel loved?" I feel that by using a third party sympathetic figure, I can avoid staking a personal defensive position and take it less personal if someone says something hurtful. "Your friend needs to have an eternal perspective, or get over it, or choose not to be offended" can be just some silly person's tactless opinion, whereas "You just need to have an eternal perspective, or get over it, or choose not to be offended" could be devastating and humiliating.
"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

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Speaking up in class

Post by Curt Sunshine » 15 Feb 2018, 16:08

When I say anything in class, I make sure I am speaking in "Mormonese". I also speak relatively slowly, pause to think for visual effect, and generally use a gentle tone.

I can get away with a lot, since I know the scriptures and a lot of religious history pretty well - and since everyone knows I have a temple recommend and have served / am serving in callings of relative visibility. Street cred helps.
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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SamBee
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Re: Speaking up in class

Post by SamBee » 17 Feb 2018, 10:42

"The medium is the message' - sometimes it's a good thing to learn how to put your point over without upsetting or triggering other people. It's about how to say it and what not to say.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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