Testimony, Blessings, and Internal Locus of Control

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Roy
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Testimony, Blessings, and Internal Locus of Control

Post by Roy » 12 Aug 2018, 17:31

I had written the following on another thread:
Specifically in regards to testimony, do we gain testimony of modesty the same way that we gain a testimony of WoW?

1) live the principle on faith.
2) observe other people not live the principle.
3) wait for something bad to happen to them.
4) tie their misfortune back to their non-compliance with the principle.
HG quoted me in her Wheat & Tares piece :D and somebody commented as follows-
So, my mom’s observing that her cigarette smoking twin died of cancer fits into your analysis.
In the BoM we have a discussion of faith and experimenting with the word Alma 27-34. This passage indicates that if we do something on faith and good things happen as a result then we can have perfect knowledge in that thing.
And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know
I believe that people see in this an equation for testimony building, securing the blessings of heaven, and controlling their destiny. Do a thing, if good things result then the thing was "true". Now you have a testimony and can testify that the thing was true. Once you understand the formula, you can repeat the results over and over again to ward off calamity.

You pay tithing despite poverty and you are blessed with continuing good health - IOW "tithing every day keep the Dr. away!", or maybe you are blessed with food from good friends and neighbors, or you become the surprised recipient of a financial windfall. This is how we are conditioned to expect that tithing and gaining a testimony of tithing is supposed to work.

Therefore the commenter raises a valid point. His mother did not die of cancer and her smoking twin sister did. This bolsters her testimony that the Word of Wisdom protected her and by extension that her twin sister could have had the same success if she had made the same choices. The sister deserved what she got! :sick:

There are of course patterns surrounding prudent life choices and reckless life choices and I believe everyone would be well advised to make prudent life choices.

I believe the danger exists primarily in thinking that we deserve the good things that happen to us and that others deserve the bad things that happen to them. This is a natural human tendency. If we are successful in the stock market then we are smarter than the rest. If we are the king of the food chain then we are "fitter" than the lowly beasts. We protect ourselves from an unpredictable and cruel world by believing in the just world hypothesis. This is a luxury born of privilege - as in I have the luxury of constructing a narrative wherein I deserve the quality of life of the top 1% of humanity because I am privileged to live the lifestyle of the 1%. This is the gospel of prosperity (or at least security).

The particularly ugly side of the just world hypothesis is that it helps us to feel justified in turning our backs on those less fortunate than us because we believe (more or less) that they deserve to be where they are.

In summary, I believe patting ourselves on the back that we are so much better than our brothers and sisters is antithetical to the message and spirit of Jesus Christ.
"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

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dande48
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Re: Testimony, Blessings, and Internal Locus of Control

Post by dande48 » 12 Aug 2018, 18:50

Good post, Roy.

I think the trouble a lot of members and religious people in general run into, is seeing accurate cause-effect relationships. This is because it's held that God controls everything that happens, whether directly or indirectly. And this causes a lot of problems, with many people asking "Why did God let ___ happen to ____?!"

Of course, if things go well, it means you're very deserving of it (like you said). But I think this is one of the least charitable, most devilish beliefs. Reality is, at lot of what happens to us, for good or bad, stems from forces outside our control. Prayer, rituals, etc all give some illusion that we are at least somewhat in control. "If we can get the gods to like us, they will shower us with blessings and smite our enemies." Winners are deserving of what they've won, but losers are as well. We're not very charitable towards losers in this Church. Or in American society in general.

In my opinion, a lot of things happen "for no good reason". Sometimes, what happens is not "for the best", and can really mess us up. Sure, some amazing people can take the worst life throws at them and turn it into something beautiful (Viktor Frankl or Elizabeth Smart, for example). But they were given the tools and the wisdom to survive, endure, and prosper. Many people who have been through similar experiences have been absolutely wrecked by it. And not because they chose to be.

If a loving God really gave us the commandments, it was to:
1. Improve our inner selves, irrespective of what is happening around us.
2. Put the odds in our favor.

If there are blessings to be had, besides these, they will come in the next life. But for this life, things are grossly unfair. I do not deserve to be in the top 1%. I did not deserve to be dirt poor and unemployed for so long either. I just hope, with the string of good fortune I've been given, I can do what I can to alleviate the suffering of those around me.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

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LDS_Scoutmaster
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Re: Testimony, Blessings, and Internal Locus of Control

Post by LDS_Scoutmaster » 14 Aug 2018, 05:39

dande48 wrote:
12 Aug 2018, 18:50
If there are blessings to be had, besides these, they will come in the next life. But for this life, things are grossly unfair.
Was not until recently that I heard the idea of the "Prosperity Gospel", which I don't think would be unique to our church, but is a philosophy and mindset that if you do the right things you will be blessed in life.

I think the idea might stem from Karma? But it was only recently that I started looking back and around at how pervasive this mindset is. I think I had a tendency to believe and follow this mindset, I've always seemed to believe in a sort of karma. It has always been mingled with the idea that things would be taking care of after this life that were not equaled out during this life.

It is an assumption to believe that if we do everything right, we will be spared all of the calamities in life. Which is opposite from the idea that if we smoke we could get lung cancer.

A + B = C. Good choices + right living = prosperity.
There's no room for any variables. So when calamities do come we're left wondering what happened, what we did wrong, how god could let this happen, or if there even is a god.

I've had to let go of a lot of my assumptions in life, it has made life much more bearable, and I'm less prone to extremes.
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6311&start=70#p121051 My last talk

We are all imperfect beings, dealing with other imperfect beings, and we're doing it imperfectly.

AmyJ
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Re: Testimony, Blessings, and Internal Locus of Control

Post by AmyJ » 14 Aug 2018, 06:56

LDS_Scoutmaster wrote:
14 Aug 2018, 05:39
Was not until recently that I heard the idea of the "Prosperity Gospel", which I don't think would be unique to our church, but is a philosophy and mindset that if you do the right things you will be blessed in life.

I think the idea might stem from Karma? But it was only recently that I started looking back and around at how pervasive this mindset is. I think I had a tendency to believe and follow this mindset, I've always seemed to believe in a sort of karma. It has always been mingled with the idea that things would be taking care of after this life that were not equaled out during this life.
I think that there are key differences between Karma and the Prosperity Gospel (though I had never seen the similarities as pointed out above - good call).
1. Focus - With Karma, you focus on "becoming" and treating others better because your actions will ripple through the community and come back to you (or are perceived to do so). With the Prosperity Gospel, your actions "obligate" God to do specific blessings - which may or may not be at the hands of other people.
2. Karma is more about "becoming" and less about "doing". It is taking the principle of "what do you want returned to you" and making decisions on what like actions do you want returned to you eventually. Prosperity Gospel is tied into "doing" specific practices (tithing, W.o.W - whatever specific principle has associated blessings to it) in part as training wheels to guide you into the meaning behind that specific practice.
TRUE STORY: We had an unexpected financial windfall last year in part due to my family's dedication to my working hours and hours of overtime for years. I figured it was more or less karma - I worked with a good attitude on additional projects and got paid for OT and more OT opportunities. My husband figured it was Prosperity Gospel, specifically "because of tithing" - which we hadn't paid for several months. "God knew we were going to pay tithing, so he gave us extra money as a reminder to pay tithing" was his reasoning.

I think that the principle of Karma works because a) the social equivalent of Newton's Law of Physics - for every action you make in a social area, there is an opposite reaction (which may or may not be equal to your action) and b) when you develop an attitude of helping others trusting that eventually it will help you when you really need it, that is what you wind up perceiving throughout life. Growing up as the oldest of 9, we got a lot of hand-me-downs from a lot of people over time - and we as a household received and gave these physical items homes with an attitude of "without money and without price". I still honor and continue this practice in my household - and it never fails - as soon as I give to others, someone always winds up giving items to my family. Now it could be a series of coincidences - combination of my perception, the awareness of others of my attitudes towards hand-me-downs, the fact that we are approachable "good people" and the fact that everyone knows that we gave away all our baby stuff about 4 years before our toddler was born and we are a one income family in a two income world. But I would prefer to believe it is Karma :P
LDS_Scoutmaster wrote:
14 Aug 2018, 05:39
It is an assumption to believe that if we do everything right, we will be spared all of the calamities in life. Which is opposite from the idea that if we smoke we could get lung cancer.

A + B = C. Good choices + right living = prosperity.
There's no room for any variables. So when calamities do come we're left wondering what happened, what we did wrong, how god could let this happen, or if there even is a god.

I've had to let go of a lot of my assumptions in life, it has made life much more bearable, and I'm less prone to extremes.
I like this. I tack on additional variables though.
A+B+C+D +E = Prosperity
Good Choices + Right Living + Right Circumstance (right place at the right time) + Teachable, Confident Attitude + Understanding that challenges are opportunities for growth and change = Prosperity (in the sense of a more meaningful life - not necessarily wealthier though)

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LDS_Scoutmaster
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Re: Testimony, Blessings, and Internal Locus of Control

Post by LDS_Scoutmaster » 28 Aug 2018, 21:47

Yes prosperity shouldn't mean 'wealth' automatically, or whatever we crave as a reward. I had a friend who said 'i will serve in the bishopric if God takes care of my family'. He lost faith when his teenage sons had difficulties and he questioned why god wouldn't keep his half of the bargain. He made an assumption.

I like your definitions between karma and the prosperity Gospel. That seems to make sense.
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6311&start=70#p121051 My last talk

We are all imperfect beings, dealing with other imperfect beings, and we're doing it imperfectly.

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DarkJedi
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Re: Testimony, Blessings, and Internal Locus of Control

Post by DarkJedi » 29 Aug 2018, 13:51

Roy wrote:
12 Aug 2018, 17:31
In summary, I believe patting ourselves on the back that we are so much better than our brothers and sisters is antithetical to the message and spirit of Jesus Christ.
I totally agree with this.

I have come to believe that all that happens to us in life is either a coincidence or the natural consequence of a choice or series of choices.
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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