My Tentative Conclusion about gospel convos with Traditional Believers

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SilentDawning
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Re: My Tentative Conclusion about gospel convos with Traditional Believers

Post by SilentDawning » 06 Jul 2018, 11:39

Ok, to get this back on track --- you have confirmed my conclusion that it's best to sidestep the gospel issues. I do agree that it means being charitable to my friend in his apparent arrogance as well. To some degree, the fact that the scriptures tend to elevate the "righteous" over the "wicked" or non-believers is a contributing factor. I also need to acknowledge where this guy came from. I won't go into the details, but he's living a much better life now than when he was a young man. And he attributes it to the gospel.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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Reuben
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Re: My Tentative Conclusion about gospel convos with Traditional Believers

Post by Reuben » 07 Jul 2018, 09:46

SilentDawning wrote:
06 Jul 2018, 11:39
Ok, to get this back on track --- you have confirmed my conclusion that it's best to sidestep the gospel issues. I do agree that it means being charitable to my friend in his apparent arrogance as well. To some degree, the fact that the scriptures tend to elevate the "righteous" over the "wicked" or non-believers is a contributing factor. I also need to acknowledge where this guy came from. I won't go into the details, but he's living a much better life now than when he was a young man. And he attributes it to the gospel.
He might just be right. I think attributing it only to the general goodness of people would be irresponsibly reductionist. (I don't think you're necessarily saying that, I just wanted to compare attributions.) Also, I think a little pride in your social group can be helpful if it lifts you out of a cycle of self-loathing and destructive behavior. It's like borrowing self-esteem. We obviously both think that too many Mormons take pride in their religion too far, though.

Here's an attempt at an explanation.

I've realized that it's usually not possible to directly use your moral compass to determine whether you're arrogant on behalf of a social group. Setting yourself above outsiders tends to reduce your guilt for treating them badly. Following orders or following the crowd further diffuses your responsibility. Building your entire life on an arrogant attitude can squash guilt from acting according to that attitude down to nothing.

Speaking from experience, arrogance actually feels great. It feels like confidence and purpose.

I think a lot of Mormons expect the Spirit to warn them against ascending a Rameumptom. I did. I just needed to be in tune, right? Well, it didn't work. Instead, life came along and pushed me off the holy stand.

Now, I've decided to take it seriously when other people tell me I'm being unfair or hurtful, try to understand everyone on their own terms, and try to erase the lines that separate us so my moral compass will work. This strategy seems effective when I manage it. I find myself drawn to the saying, "Whenever you draw a line between 'us' and 'them,' you'll find Jesus on the other side."

But erasing a line is crazy hard to even want do when most folks on the other side think that to be happy, they need both the line and their arrogant attitudes. I've seen this again and again on both sides of the lines drawn between believing Mormons and others. And of course, neither side feels much guilt over it.

So I think it's great that you keep dragging your foot along that line, SD. I wish I could do more than just express hope that someday your friend will decide not to draw it again.
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SilentDawning
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Re: My Tentative Conclusion about gospel convos with Traditional Believers

Post by SilentDawning » 08 Jul 2018, 05:44

Reuben wrote:
07 Jul 2018, 09:46
So I think it's great that you keep dragging your foot along that line, SD. I wish I could do more than just express hope that someday your friend will decide not to draw it again.
Yep, it's a fine line. There was one other thing that sort of got me. I commented on how it meant sacrifice these last few years as I pursued multiple degrees -- necessary to stay current in my profession.

He commented that from the perspective of the gospel, that none of those achievements mattered in the eternities. And the fact that I was less available for my son over the last five years was an instance of "no other success can compensate for failure in the home".

Again, I felt like dirt afterwards. These degrees I have pursued were necessary for a dyed in the wool Academic like myself, with decades invested in my profession and my particular company/organization. Even if what he says is true (which I question).

My son is not active, but that is due to a lot of factors, not simply my reduced presence in the home. And all that I have learned in the last few years, which is substantial, certainly is relevant as whatever level of knowledge we attain in this life rises with us. Assuming there will be things to do in the next life, I will be much better off. And education in itself is an enobling experience for people who embrace it properly. And would you consider a less active child a "failure in the home"? What about the fact that he's a good kid and rejects so much of the world that his friends have embraced? Is that not worth something?

Again, this kind of arrogance toward what I have accomplished bothers me, and it seems to have been spawned by church experience on his part. The fact that none of his children are even active (and when I say not active, I mean REALLY not active), while one of mine is a TBM and temple worthy etcetera, goes to show that I did something right -- and that success outside the home, and less active children, is better than no success outside the home, and less active children.

Also, I may be rather blunt about my feelings about the church here, but not so in face to face, local settings or my family. I am supportive. And that counts for something.

Anyway, one realizes that ultimately, it's your point of view that matters, as Heber13 says in his signature line. I come here and there is support, light censure for some of his attitudes, and in a TBM setting, I'm an example of a fallen member.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: My Tentative Conclusion about gospel convos with Traditional Believers

Post by hawkgrrrl » 08 Jul 2018, 10:22

I'm still catching up on the thread because I find this fascinating. Quickly, though, I wanted to note something you said:
One thing I found amusing is that he was pretty black and white on commandments like tithing, temple, etcetera. But when I spoke about refusing callings, he was largely in agreement. He has been very discrimminating when he's been asked to take callings that inconvenience him, and has said "no" in the past. Doesn't subscribe to "never say no to a calling". So, although that's not a commandment, but a cultural norm, he does pick and choose to some extent. Same with programs in the church -- he was doing ministering years before the HT concept was changed in favor of that principle -- like inviting all his families over for a BBQ and considering that home teaching.

Still heavy on the basic commandments that broach TR worthiness, but not on the others.
This goes back to something we've noticed many times before. EVERYONE is a cafeteria Mormon because you literally can't (and don't) eat everything offered at the buffet of Mormonism. Nobody does. It's not humanly possible. Some of it contradicts, even. But he's specifically orthoprax about the TR stuff. That is telling. Does that mean that 1) he just wants to stay on the right side of authority (avoid a confrontation with a bishop)? or 2) he believes that only what is audited is important in the gospel (as I'm sure many people do in life in general)? Jesus never said "He who can pass a temple recommend interview really gets me."
Also interesting was his admission that the idea of being a divine being with the burden of creating worlds for eternity wasn't all that appealing to him. He's not ambitious. It had me wondering, is the celestial kingdom for everyone anyway?
Two things: 1) the church has been distancing itself from this core doctrine to avoid sounding weird to evangelicals, so he'll probably get his wish, 2) based on the temple, there's no reason to believe women are included in this destiny other than as husband-adoring baby farms, so I felt totally bait and switched.

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mom3
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Re: My Tentative Conclusion about gospel convos with Traditional Believers

Post by mom3 » 08 Jul 2018, 12:27

Hawkgrrl - I know you're busy - But dang it's good when you are back.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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mom3
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Re: My Tentative Conclusion about gospel convos with Traditional Believers

Post by mom3 » 08 Jul 2018, 14:05

Now that I have read the thread - I will throw in a couple.

Reading through this I realized the worst part of any conversation where you feel cornered is the inability to see or respond quickly. I end up pulling things apart for hours to learn "how not to blow" some future conversation with someone. The entire process is exhausting.
He commented that from the perspective of the gospel, that none of those achievements mattered in the eternities
In that reprocessing mode - He's wrong. Joseph Smith & Jesus Christ both taught and encouraged learning - Parable of the Talents for one thing. School of the Prophets for another.

As a religion we let our gospel get totally shunted by struggles for inclusion. We dropped and picked up so many things that it puts the differing generations and territories we were raised with as members at odds with itself.

Last of all the gospel calls on us to not judge. 'nough said.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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LookingHard
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Re: My Tentative Conclusion about gospel convos with Traditional Believers

Post by LookingHard » 08 Jul 2018, 15:11

I too have spent a TON of hours preparing for how to respond to those that I assume will pushback when I am a bit more open about my (lack of) beliefs. Quite quickly I came to the conclusion I wasn't (and shouldn't) convince them they are wrong, but I do want to defend myself - I want to keep my honor and feel like I should be respected. It was a good mental exercise, but I have come to the conclusion that I can encourage them in their faith and even ask if there is a way I can I do for them to help them in their faith journey. I then ask that they give me that same respect and just leave it at that. Just try and be as Christlike as I can towards them and not make a big deal out of it as much as I can.

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Re: My Tentative Conclusion about gospel convos with Traditional Believers

Post by nibbler » 08 Jul 2018, 15:29

SilentDawning wrote:
08 Jul 2018, 05:44
He commented that from the perspective of the gospel, that none of those achievements mattered in the eternities.
This life. Not a part of eternity. News to me.

Prepping for conversations with the ultra orthodox? I usually take the same approach where you listen to a friend that's super passionate about a subject you're not particularly interested in. Like if your kid wants to talk about minecraft for 8 straight hours. You let them talk. You humor them. You lose it after the 2nd hour but you stay patient. After hour 6 the steam starts coming out of your ears.

But that's one approach. The gospel (however the person you are talking to defines it) is just another hobby that may or may not interest you. Maybe your gospel is a little different than theirs but if you look at it as, "hey, they're just taking about minecraft" it could make things easier.

It gets tougher when the other person gets into tribal loyalty Q&A time. Questions that range from, "On a scale from 9.99 to 10 how blindly do you follow the prophet?" to the more subtle, "What's your current calling?" It can help to have canned answers.

"Yeah, the prophet... he's a good guy."
"I just got released about two years ago and I haven't been called to anything new yet."

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SilentDawning
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Re: My Tentative Conclusion about gospel convos with Traditional Believers

Post by SilentDawning » 08 Jul 2018, 19:35

OK -- now its time for the True Confessions component of my story. Everything I have said up to this point is true, by the way. But at one point, he mentioned plural marriage and maybe even polyandry as a celestial law, and how his wife wasn't into it. But he knew it was a celestial law.

Remember, we were out in the wilderness for 3 solid days with no one to talk to but each other. And by the end, my filters were getting weak. I normally don't say anything that could even broach anti-Mormonism (even though I don't think what I eventually said wasn't really in that camp). I told him I thought JS made a mistake sexually and justified it with the plural marriage concept. If married to someone spiritually, then it's not adultery so he could maintain his status as prophet with the plural marriage concept. And so, a whole theology was born out of an indiscretion.

He said he didn't believe the prophet made any sexual mistakes. I asked if he'd every heard of Fanny Alger, and Bushman, the historian. He said no, so I told him the story. He replied that 14 was an acceptable age at which to get married in JS's time, but had never heard of Rough Stone Rolling. I explained Bushman's respected status as a historian and a Mormon, as well as the full story of Fanny Alger.

This seemed to throw him. He came back to the subject about 2 times about it afterwards, at one point, asking me if JS, Emma or Fanny Alger had actually admitted it happened. At that point I deferred to Bushman and said I would have to rely on the historians. It had been a long time since I read RRR -- that I thought Oliver Cowdrey had referred to it or maybe even JS himself, but would have to check the references.

It died there, but it was the closest I came to opening his mind a bit. He eventually said "Everyone is trying to discredit JS" or similar, and at that point, the topic died. I was relieved as he is in a happy place, and one of my guiding principles is not to destroy the faith of others when such faith is working.

The thing is, any belief I have in Mormonism is now independent of leader behavior, prophet behavior, or mistakes made by the church. At this point, I can't maintain TBM levels of faith and commitment, but the current prophet can commit adultery and I don't think I'd lessen my current level of lesser commitment. That, I told him, was a positive biproduct of my unorthodoxy. So, even if JS did have a sexual affair with other women, and justified it with plural marriage, that wouldn't affect my overall level of commitment. In fact, I maintain this level of commitment believing JS did in fact invent the doctrine of plural marriage to justify his own sexual behavior. In this sense, I have become much more thick skinned than in the past, and for the better, in my view.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: My Tentative Conclusion about gospel convos with Traditional Believers

Post by hawkgrrrl » 08 Jul 2018, 20:45

Well, welcome to the rabbit hole, SD's friend. You've teased with just enough information to blow his black & white world to bits. Honestly, though, that's not faith to be so black & white. That's my view, and I'm completely serious. That's spiritual laziness. It's ennui.

Yes, Oliver Cowdery referred to JS's indiscretion as “a dirty, nasty, filthy scrape affair of his and Fanny Alger's.”

14 may have been an acceptable age--WITH parental permission--but it was far from common, and JS applied incredible spiritual pressure to Helen Mar Kimball and her parents. Imagine the prophet walking in to the Miamaid class, picking one of them out, then telling her father that if she agrees to marry him, a married man, that it will be to their benefit in eternal life. We decry selling of indulgences and priestcraft, but he was giving out promises of salvation for teen brides' parents if they coerced her into marrying him in secret and not telling his wife. I mean, come on. Flaming sword, my eye.

Anyway, your friend wants multiple wives in the eternities, but his wife's not into it. Sounds like he's a true blue Mormon, alright.

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