Are we really that different?

Public forum for topics that don't fit into the other categories.
User avatar
DevilsAdvocate
Posts: 1392
Joined: 19 Feb 2010, 12:56
Location: Utah

Are we really that different?

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 22 Dec 2018, 09:52

I don't want to derail the other thread because this is a completely separate topic but I wanted to respond to the following post and some other comments along these lines.
Curt Sunshine wrote:
16 Dec 2018, 23:31
Satisfied people want change they can understand and that doesn't shock or anger them. When that sort of change happens, satisfied people are happy. Happy people stay where they are...It really is as simple as that. President Nelson is giving satisfied members what they want...These sort of changes (non-shocking and non-anger-producing for satisfied people) aren't going to make satisfied people leave the Church. Those who leave the Church will be already dissatisfied people who don't see them as revelatory and are disappointed they aren't "bigger and better" - and those people were the most likely to leave in the first place...I can't think of a single change instituted since Nelson became President that is shocking or angering enough for typical, active, believing members to cause any of them to leave. Instead, they perceive an exciting forward movement due to steady change.
To me this sounds like the general idea that me and many other current or former Church members that lost faith in the Church were never real TBMs to begin with, we were supposedly just some sort of hypercritical malcontents that were predestined to leave the Church eventually sooner or later anyway so there's no point in President Nelson or other Church leaders worrying about what we think. To me this general idea brings up way more questions than answers and I guess I don't really buy the premise.

Are those of us that once believed in the Church enough to pay tithing as adults but later stopped believing really all that different from those that continue to believe in the Church? If so, what exactly are these differences?

Are some or most believing and obedient members somehow immune from the possibility of losing their faith in the Church and if so what is it exactly that makes them immune to this possibility?

I don't doubt that some people have a much easier time in the Church than others and I can admit that some of my original dissatisfaction in the Church had nothing to do with belief but simply the fact that I am an introvert. So home teaching, missionary work, callings, giving speeches, etc. felt like swimming upstream to me and will never be my favorite way to spend my time. But at the same time I see many other introverts continue to soldier on in the Church. Why? Personally I think happiness is far from the primary determining factor as far as who will remain faithful in the Church their whole lives or not. When I look around at the average sacrament meeting, my TBM neighbors, coworkers, family, etc., I definitely don't see people that couldn't possibly be any happier with their lives on average.

Personally I think at least two factors that are easily more influential in keeping people in the Church are: 1. A sense of obligation due to believing it is from God and 2. Concerns about what other Church members will think if they don't go along with all this. In fact, the social pressure is so strong by itself that some Church members that do not believe in the Church and don't really like the Church very much will continue to play along as if they were TBMs keeping their concerns to themselves. In fact, I think this is one reason why people want to comment on StayLDS and DAMU websites, precisely because they don't feel like they can talk about some of this stuff openly in real life.

As far as the difference between those that lost faith in the Church and those that haven't I don't believe there is really that much of a difference overall. I think the most common difference is simply that those that still believe either don't want to or haven't seriously considered the possibility that the Church isn't what it claims to be in the first place. For those that have considered the possibility many still just want (or need) to believe more than they want to doubt at this point. But that doesn't mean they can't change their minds and think, "Why should I put so much trust in the Church and its leaders?" at any time without warning. I don't really expect or necessarily even want that to happen in most cases, as far as I'm concerned people can and will believe whatever they want, but at the same time I wouldn't want to bet real money on any one Church member never losing faith no matter how much of a TBM they appear to be at this point.

[Admin Note]: A comment was added after some of the responses to illustrate how the quote excerpted in this post was altered intentionally in a way that made it possible to draw a different conclusion from it than what the actual, full quote said.
Last edited by DevilsAdvocate on 22 Dec 2018, 10:06, edited 2 times in total.
"Truth is what works." - William James

User avatar
SilentDawning
Posts: 7336
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: Are we really that different?

Post by SilentDawning » 22 Dec 2018, 09:59

I think the trigger in not believing involves allow yourself to entertain initial thoughts that the church might not be true. Or, in my case, deciding that I no longer wanted to be as much a part of the experience as I did previously. There wasn't any rejection of the truth claims at that point -- simply a feeling of being disenfranchised to the point I wanted to spread my wings elsewhere. And with that, came a willingness to start entertaining other thoughts that put me in the unorthodox camp.

It really comes down to what you allow yourself to think. And what I allowed myself to think, initially, was HEAVILY influenced by the initial emotions I felt, and then the reasoned observations I made after I let the emotions dull over time...

Am I different from the traditional believer now? Yes! Definitely! Very different! I don't subscribe to most of the cultural values and typical motivators to which other church members respond. I'm not nearly as committed as the average active member. And I feel uncertain about what life holds after death, if anything. I wonder if it's the way the Mormons have it, not sure. I kind of hope not, and hope it'll be even more merciful that what the Plan of Salvation forecasts.

So, I'm pretty different now, for sure!
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- 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."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

User avatar
DevilsAdvocate
Posts: 1392
Joined: 19 Feb 2010, 12:56
Location: Utah

Re: Are we really that different?

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 22 Dec 2018, 13:03

SilentDawning wrote:
22 Dec 2018, 09:59
I think the trigger in not believing involves allow yourself to entertain initial thoughts that the church might not be true. Or, in my case, deciding that I no longer wanted to be as much a part of the experience as I did previously. There wasn't any rejection of the truth claims at that point -- simply a feeling of being disenfranchised to the point I wanted to spread my wings elsewhere. And with that, came a willingness to start entertaining other thoughts that put me in the unorthodox camp...It really comes down to what you allow yourself to think. And what I allowed myself to think, initially, was HEAVILY influenced by the initial emotions I felt, and then the reasoned observations I made after I let the emotions dull over time...

Am I different from the traditional believer now? Yes! Definitely! Very different! I don't subscribe to most of the cultural values and typical motivators to which other church members respond. I'm not nearly as committed as the average active member. And I feel uncertain about what life holds after death, if anything. I wonder if it's the way the Mormons have it, not sure. I kind of hope not, and hope it'll be even more merciful that what the Plan of Salvation forecasts...So, I'm pretty different now, for sure!
What I'm getting at is that the only thing that really changed is your perspective. Sure it is a fairly big change affecting many related beliefs and values but my point is you were still essentially the same person physically with the same basic personality before the change in beliefs as you were afterward and my experience was very similar to yours and thousands if not millions of others so far. That's why I don't believe that there is any fundamental difference to prevent many current TBMs from ending up where we are. Like you said, it basically comes down to what they allow themselves to think or not.

It doesn't necessarily even have to take anything particularly shocking or angering to get people to start to seriously question and doubt. For example, some have pointed to Hinckley's interviews as a major catalyst in their loss of belief in the Church and I think one of the main reasons why is simply because it made him look like an ordinary man to them, not someone with all the answers or any special insight the way they were taught to expect. In fact I think many disaffected members and ex-Mormons were the actually some of the most TBM of all and it is precisely because they took everything so seriously and paid close attention to it that they ended up losing faith in the Church whereas some that are more apathetic or casual about it actually have a much easier time continuing to believe.
"Truth is what works." - William James

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16832
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Are we really that different?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 22 Dec 2018, 20:58

I don't have time to point out how badly you misrepresented what I said, and I don't have the energy, either.

Your last comment says essentially what I said. If you can't see that, I probably can't explain it in a way you will understand.

I will add one more thing:

I have NEVER said or implied that only predestined malcontents leave the Church. Never. Not once. Never will. Never even hinted at it. Never. You have been around here long enough to know that perfectly well.

Have at it, everyone. I won't be participating in this one.
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

User avatar
SilentDawning
Posts: 7336
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: Are we really that different?

Post by SilentDawning » 23 Dec 2018, 08:07

DevilsAdvocate wrote:
22 Dec 2018, 13:03
What I'm getting at is that the only thing that really changed is your perspective. Sure it is a fairly big change affecting many related beliefs and values but my point is you were still essentially the same person physically with the same basic personality before the change in beliefs as you were afterward and my experience was very similar to yours and thousands if not millions of others so far. That's why I don't believe that there is any fundamental difference to prevent many current TBMs from ending up where we are. Like you said, it basically comes down to what they allow themselves to think or not.
Not sure. I don't mean this in an antagonistic way (I agree with the vast majority of the posts you write here, DA), but I guess I don't completely understand what kind of difference you are talking about. Do you mean fundamental personality? You seem to imply that above.

If you are referring to personality, I think personality drives perspective -- it tends to drive our affect, behavior and cognitions, the latter akin to perspective, along with life circumstances and our personal choices.

If you are talking about a genetic difference between TBM's and people who aren't active, I think that MAY influence some members choices. For example, I did a lot of reading on the "How of Happiness" and I took a course in how to be happy, developed by a Stanford researcher/professor named Sonja Lyubomirsky. She said that research shows 50% of our overall happiness is genetic, 10% is due to circumstances, and the remaining 40% is up to our personal choices.

While not addressing church activity specifically, I believe this research suggests a certain amount of our personal reaction to the church, and our happiness therein, is due to our genetics, and our personality, with our choices sometimes influenced by our circumstances and sheer personal preference.

I think my personal tendency to dwell on things that have hurt me, for example, has its roots in my genetics. This has always been a problem, and it leads to less activity most times I've been hit with injustice in the church. Not at first, when I was a new member, but shortly afterwards, starting with a stake president who clearly ran his stake like a business and not an inspired organization, which completely floored me.

Now, the subsequent injustices have been pretty unusual and extraordinary, if the perceptions of other active Mormons in whom I confided is any indication. But still, I tend to feel the injustice deeply, and it alters my feelings, my behavior, and my perspective toward the church. The well spring is likely my personality and the way I tend to react to things in general. The difference is that in the church, my reactions are more extreme because of its claims to being led by a higher power, transcending the earth in some ways, and then it doesn't live up to it when the chips are down for individual members.

I have had similar reactions to organizations and people in community volunteer contexts, but in the church it hurts more and causes a more major life crises given the church's bigger than life claims about itself.

I have done a lot of research on personality and its influence on behavior (my dissertation broached that area) and our personality is believed to be relatively static over time, although there is a tendency to become more emotionally stable, and more honest as we get older. So, I believe our individual personalities do have a strong influence on our activity.

Examples from the Gallup Strengths Finder personality inventory -- I have a trait called Ideation. The church tends to squelch new ideas because everything is prescribed and set in stone as revelatory. What a frustrating place for someone who is teeming with ideas like me!!! Very frustrating. Some people have a trait called Consistency, meaning they love prescribed rules they can just follow and "be safe" by some other authority, whether those rules are a good idea or not. Others have strong "Belief" that encourages them to align with their religion for faith-based reasons. Still others have Connectedness, where they believe "everything happens for a reason". This allows them to explain away our history and even bad behavior from leaders very easily.

I have none of those traits, but I have Ideation that frustrates me in the church, Intellection (I like to talk to smart people), Relator (I like to work alongside people and really get to know them in deep relationships), among others. I think these three work against me in the church. Ideation for the reason I gave above. Intellection works against me because if you start leveling purely intellectual/scientific arguments against our history (my tendency), DNA testing of the latin populations, etcetera, much of the BoM premises don't hold up. Relator doesn't work because there is a tendency for shallow relationships in the church, all conditional on activity. When I go deep into my feelings about the church, I end up in the outgroup with any formerly "close friends" except one, who is not even in my ward anymore.

Add to that the fact that I have my own Ideas about how to be happy, and pursue them in spite of church advice, and its a recipe for less activity.

So, my personality drives me in a certain direction, and then my personal choices take over to lead me to happiness when extreme, misery-inducing church circumstances hit me.

Does this bother me? Do I consider myself somehow 'inferior' because of my personality? Not at all. In fact, I'm relieved that research seems to point to genetics as a major influencer of my behavior. I believe God will take this into account upon judgment day, as well as some of the extreme circumstances I've encountered in the church. Does someone who doesn't really have the basic genetic makeup of life TBM, and who experiences very extreme abuses in the church deserve the same judgment as someone who has the right personality for longetivity as a TBM and gets a smooth ride? I think not.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- 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."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

User avatar
DevilsAdvocate
Posts: 1392
Joined: 19 Feb 2010, 12:56
Location: Utah

Re: Are we really that different?

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 23 Dec 2018, 16:56

SilentDawning wrote:
23 Dec 2018, 08:07

Not sure. I don't mean this in an antagonistic way (I agree with the vast majority of the posts you write here, DA), but I guess I don't completely understand what kind of difference you are talking about. Do you mean fundamental personality? You seem to imply that above.

If you are referring to personality, I think personality drives perspective -- it tends to drive our affect, behavior and cognitions, the latter akin to perspective, along with life circumstances and our personal choices...If you are talking about a genetic difference between TBM's and people who aren't active, I think that MAY influence some members choices. For example, I did a lot of reading on the "How of Happiness" and I took a course in how to be happy, developed by a Stanford researcher/professor named Sonja Lyubomirsky. She said that research shows 50% of our overall happiness is genetic, 10% is due to circumstances, and the remaining 40% is up to our personal choices.
I guess it's more of a combination of personality, circumstances, personal choices, etc. to supposedly put people in a certain frame of mind before they will seriously question the Church. The original post I was responding to was so baffling to me that it was hard to sort out all the reasons that it didn't really make sense to me.

Did we really have to already be relatively unhappy and especially critical of the Church in order to stop believing in it?

Are most typical TBMs so happy that they are immune to seriously questioning the Church? Is this really the primary difference that led to them staying where they are unlike what happened to us?

I don't doubt that some people have a much easier time in the Church than others and that personality can play a big part in that. What I don't believe at all is that happiness is the primary much less only factor to determine whether people will seriously question the Church or not. I'm sure there are some TBMs that are not very happy at all that will continue to believe their entire lives and at the same time there are many former TBMs that were just as happy as most remaining TBMs that still lost faith in the Church for many different reasons such as simply seeing "anti-Mormon" information that just made more sense to them than the Church's story.

Some of my TBM coworkers are as similar in personality to me as anyone I have ever met. As far as I can tell the main difference that matters to allow them to continue to believe in the Church is simply that they haven't wanted to go there yet as far as seriously questioning the Church but that doesn't mean they couldn't start asking themselves, "What if there is no God?", "What if Joseph Smith made it all up?", etc. at any time. I definitely wasn't looking to pick the Church apart from the beginning, I was actually afraid to look at any "anti-Mormon" sources because I thought they were literally evil and intentionally misleading, I just kept noticing more and more contradictions in the scriptures, conference talks, etc. that made it increasingly difficult to believe anymore so then I started reading apologetics desperately looking for a way to make sense of some of this but that only made things worse and I just couldn't do it anymore within a few months after that.
"Truth is what works." - William James

User avatar
SilentDawning
Posts: 7336
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: Are we really that different?

Post by SilentDawning » 23 Dec 2018, 17:54

DevilsAdvocate wrote:
23 Dec 2018, 16:56
Did we really have to already be relatively unhappy and especially critical of the Church in order to stop believing in it?
I would say "no".

I think there are people, like me, who have a rough ride in the church. They just plain encounter bad leaders by the luck of the draw and it makes it a terrible experience. These people can be normally happy people, or not. But their experience can be so awful they just decide its time to move on.

This seems to fit me pretty well -- I ran into a whole spate of bad leaders. A young, inexperienced Stake President who was a highly successful business man. He hadn't yet figured out the church isn't a business, and treated it like one -- and people like me. He treated me as employees sucking on the teat of the church's bank account when I showed up as a new convert hoping the local church would fund a mission.

I ran into a really bad social worker and an absentee LDS Social services director who mishandled a delicate situation, and kept making it worse. For some reason, I've managed to have to work alongside some of the most vindictive members I've ever run into in the church, and they've tried to injure me in obvious ways I found hard to equate with being a temple recommend holder.

All this while I was trying to just be a good member.

Then there are just plain miserable people who take offense at everything and can't possibly last in the church.

And there are people who just want to the truth, are normally happy people, and start searching, reading and questioning, and don't like what they find -- it hurts their faith.

Then there are people for whom the experience becomes a bad fit.

There are some people who just get bored of the same old same old week after week.

So, I don't think you either are cut out for it, or you aren't. I do think the interaction of personality, circumstances, and personal choice influences it a lot. It's complex.

As someone once said 'God left all the easy problems to the hard scientists". Human behavior is very complex so its hard to predict it.

I believe that in spite of the fact I have a personality that isn't allowed to thrive within the church, I would still be active and probably a priesthood leader if a) I hadn't married the person I did, which led to some of the church abuses and b) had positive, affirming experiences on mission critical needs I had in the church and c) reached mission age with a nice nest egg so I didn't need the church to fund the mission.

If these circumstances had materialized, I think I could have withstood the later things that pushed me over the edge. They were relatively minor compared to the early stuff that set my mind in a wondering state about the larger than life claims from the church. But a life time of the major abuses I suffered made my less resilient to the more minor stuff that happened 8 years ago that pushed me off the ledge. Without the early stuff to jaundice my impression of the church, I don't think the later stuff would have phased me.

When the highly unusual and extraordinarily terrible experiences happened to me, it interacted with the latent discontent I felt (taken from my personality), as well as my tendency to feel things deeply, and so I made personal choices to find a happier path.

Interaction...
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- 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."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16832
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Are we really that different?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 Dec 2018, 12:05

After a conversation behind the scenes, I am adding an Admin Note.

[Admin Note]: Devil's Advocate intentionally misquoted the original comment he excerpted to create his post. He intentionally deleted ONLY one part of one sentence - the sentence that would have shown his conclusion was not close to what was said in the original comment. It obviously was intentional, since he used ellipses in his excerpted version to omit 10 important words. There is no doubt the deletion was deliberate. I am providing the entire quote below, so everyone can see the exact context, not the altered one in the post. I am highlighting the sentence that includes the deleted words.
Satisfied people want change they can understand and that doesn't shock or anger them. When that sort of change happens, satisfied people are happy. Happy people stay where they are.

It really is as simple as that. President Nelson is giving satisfied members what they want: non-threatening change at a pace that excites and energizes them.

These sort of changes (non-shocking and non-anger-producing for satisfied people) aren't going to make satisfied people leave the Church. Those who leave the Church will be already dissatisfied people who don't see the changes as revelatory and are disappointed they aren't "bigger and better" - and those people were the most likely to leave in the first place."


The deleted part (the one replaced by ellipses in the post) is:
non-threatening change at a pace that excites and energizes them.


The original quote made four main points: 1) Satisfied, happy people stay where they are; 2) President Nelson has given satisfied members what they want: non-threatening, exciting, and energizing change. 3) Satisfied members won't leave over changes that they see as non-threatening, exciting, and energizing; 4) People who leave over these changes aren't satisfied members. Removing 10 words eliminated the core description of the nature and impact of the changes that were being discussed, which was the central issue addressed in the original thread from which the comment was excerpted. In essence, this post ripped one part of one comment out of context, changed the excepted comment by eliminating a key portion, and then mischaracterized the excerpted comment completely.

The original quote made it clear that it was focused on "satisfied members" who were getting "what they want" from these particular changes: no threat but rather excitement and energy. It said the people who leave the LDS Church over the changes President Nelson has been making ("non-threatening and non-anger-producing" changes that are exciting and energizing) are not "satisfied" members; rather, they already are "dissatisfied" members who are "disappointed" in the changes. It said dissatisfied people are more likely to leave than satisfied people.

It neither said nor implied anything personally negative or insulting about those dissatisfied people. It said nothing about apostasy or lack of faith. It never said or implied anyone was hypocritical or malcontent. It never implied any degree of previous lack of deep devotion or commitment. It never hinted at predestination of any kind. It never said or implied that "TBMs" never leave the Church or that people who do leave never were fully committed or never were "TBMs". It never said or implied anything like how it was described in the post. It never classified anyone in any way except as satisfied or dissatisfied. It addressed ONLY how those two general groups of members are reacting to the specific changes President Nelson has made so far.

Final Admin Note:

At StayLDS.com, we don't take people's words out of context, change them intentionally, and then misrepresent what they said. We don't accuse people of saying things we know they don't believe and have never said here (in this case, over a ten-year period and in more than 16,000 posts and comments) - especially when, on multiple occasions, they have said exactly the opposite of what they are being accused of saying. It is a blatant violation of our rules of etiquette. It isn't allowed, no matter who the target is. It won't be tolerated, no matter how long someone has been here. We don't do that here. Period.

This thread can remain active for now, but it will be focused on the full, original quote - not the altered version in the post and its inaccurate conclusions. That might be impossible, given the fact that the title and the entire post is based on an inaccurate version and misinterpretation of the original quote, but the thread will not be closed if it is possible to salvage a discussion of the original quote itself and the title of this post. If that is impossible, the thread will be closed.
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

Roy
Posts: 6151
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Are we really that different?

Post by Roy » 24 Dec 2018, 13:05

Great question. Are we really that different? I think the answer is both yes and no. Yes, we are all individuals with our own personality traits, experiences, and perspective. No, as humans there is more that is in common than is different.

In context, I do not think the President Nelson's changes would be faith destroying to many members. I believe the Essay on Race and the priesthood to have been challenging for a number of the more traditional and stalwart old timers. President Nelson's changes seem to be relatively cosmetic and program oriented. I don't know that he is even touching doctrinal matters. His changes may be the proverbial "straw that broke the camels back" for some individuals but that implies a long history of challenges that led to the final moment.

For me personally, my faith crisis catalyst was 1) the stillbirth of my daughter despite assurances of "blessings" and 2) my discovery that the LDS church does not really have an answer as to what happens to stillborn children in the afterlife. I have wondered how I might react differently if I was in a different situation.
1) I knew that there were some things that did not add up in the history (I had read RSR) but the church worked for me in the here and now. I literally felt that that church was imbued with God's power that allowed us to raise up, bless, and protect our families and communities.
2) After the stillbirth I was realing. Did I do something wrong? I ultimately landed on "No, I did not do anything wrong because I never had the power to ensure a healthy delivery."
3) I was researching the church doctrine on the status of stillborn children to give comfort to my wife (who was understandibly in a major depressive episode) and I discovered that we do not know what happens to these children. This struck me as odd. If the prophet is in frequent communication with God could he not pose the question and get an answer?
4) We were attending a Support Group for parents that had lost children. There was much that we had in common with this group. No one else was Mormon. Many asked religious questions of why at some point. One catholic couple's baby died before he could be baptised. The doctrine of the church gave them anxiety but they were unsure how seriously to take it. This couple's situation is often used in the LDS church to demontrate the superiority of our doctrine over catholicism. All children are saved. People that did not have baptism can receive it by proxy. Ironically, it was my own church's lack of doctrine on my particular situation that was helping to deny me doctrinal comfort. Rather than feeling superiority over this catholic couple for how their church teachings influenced their grief - I felt kinship. Our situations were different and also very similar.
5) These experiences led me to re-evaluate and reinterpret the things on my doctrinal and church history "shelf"

I wonder if certain elements had been different if I would have landed elsewhere. What if we lived in a stong LDS ward in a predominant LDS area. Perhaps the way that this fictional ward would rally around us could be felt and interpreted as the tender mercies of God reaching out to us in our time of need. Perhaps we would join a support group filled with mostly Mormons that found comfort in their faith and testified of things that they hope for. Perhaps DW and I would coopt some of their faith based coping mechanisms and perspectives. I am aware that for some having a child "on the other side of the veil" can be an incredibly strong motivator to "endure to the end" for the sake of reuniting with the child. Maybe, if some of the details were different, my "shelf" would have been maintained and even strengthened.

Are we really that different? Yes. Some people are much more prone to logic analyzation and scientific scrutiny whereas some others are much more driven by feelings and emotional decision making - just for example. (as an aside, I observe people that are very logic driven sometimes as staunch church defenders and emotional decision makers sometimes lashing out emotionally at the church - so I am not saying that either of these groups is more likely to leave the church.) No, we are not really that different. At the core our basic emotional and psychological needs are remarkably similar. If those needs are being met by our community we will be more motivated to stay. If those needs are not being met, we will be more motivated to leave (physically or mentally).
"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

User avatar
mom3
Posts: 4077
Joined: 02 Apr 2011, 14:11

Re: Are we really that different?

Post by mom3 » 24 Dec 2018, 23:33

I don't think we are.

Stepping away from the comparison of traditional believer to nuanced or agnostic, I look at the varied versions of Christianity. Each holds parts higher than others. Yet each states and claims to be the full truth.

I think each of us has areas that are more important than others. As Roy pointed out his struggles had little to do with the history issues. For my husband the history issues were the tsunami. For me marginalizing is a huge issue. It has been since I was a teen and could see it happening in my ward. I always assumed it was that wards problem. Only later to realize that it was much broader and more systemic.

So many people in my ward are over the moon with President Nelson's new revelations. None of them even remember him bringing up the name of the church issue in conference 14 years previously. To me he is house cleaning or furniture shifting. To them he is Moses on the Mountain. Yet, when it comes down to it, these people who see the church different than me, also serve side by side at the homeless shelter with me as part of our yearly community service.
"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

Post Reply