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The Edge of Inside

Posted: 24 May 2019, 11:20
by hawkgrrrl
There was a great NYT OpEd by David Brooks describing the power to create change lies with those who are inside, but near the edge. That sounded familiar to me in thinking of this group. From the OP:
A person at the edge of inside can see what’s good about the group and what’s good about rival groups. . . A person at the edge of inside can be the strongest reformer. This person has the loyalty of a faithful insider, but the judgment of the critical outsider.
This statement from the OP reminded me of Jesus saying he came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. He was an insider to Judaism but also one that reformed it greatly.
“You have learned the rules well enough to know how to ‘break the rules properly,’ which is not really to break them at all, but to find their true purpose: ‘not to abolish the law but to complete it.’”
To me, the money quote is this:
The person on the edge of inside is involved in constant change. The true insiders are so deep inside they often get confused by trivia and locked into the status quo. The outsider is throwing bombs and dreaming of far-off transformational revolution. But the person at the doorway is seeing constant comings and goings. As Rohr says, she is involved in a process of perpetual transformation, not a belonging system. She is more interested in being a searcher than a settler.

Insiders and outsiders are threatened by those on the other side of the barrier. But a person on the edge of inside neither idolizes the Us nor demonizes the Them. Such a person sees different groups as partners in a reality that is paradoxical, complementary and unfolding.

There are downsides to being at the edge of inside. You never lose yourself in a full commitment. You may be respected and befriended, but you are not loved as completely as the people at the core, the band of brothers. You enjoy neither the purity of the outsider nor that of the true believer.

But the person on the edge of inside can see reality clearly. The insiders and the outsiders tend to think in dualistic ways: us versus them; this or that. But, as Rohr would say, the beginning of wisdom is to fight the natural tendency to be dualistic; it is to fight the natural ego of the group.
I sometimes wonder if I am the way I am about the church because of the church or because I just feel most comfortable near the edges of any group. I don't like to get too wrapped up in belonging. I don't drink the kool-aid. It's more insightful to me to be aloof from that pull of a group, to see the comings and goings. It's why I'm also politically independent, why I feel like a "citizen of the world" more than just an American (although deeply American, too, but critical of my own country's culture in ways someone more provincial would not be). Basically, I don't want to get sucked in by loyalties and group norms. ... _IXsVdIKkY

Re: The Edge of Inside

Posted: 24 May 2019, 12:15
by DarkJedi
Thanks for sharing. I agree, much of what this piece contains relates directly to us. In that sense, I am very happy to be on the edge.

You probably won't find me at the Memorial Day picnic, but if you do I likely will literally be on the edge. But in my other mostly orthoprax ways I can see that I make changes to those around me and some of those around me are not at the edge. Except for some referred to in the last paragraph of the article, the ones who "have no tolerance for the person at the edge of inside" and who "want purity, rigid loyalty and lock step unity," most are very open to reason as long as we speak their language, a language we can probably only speak from inside even if we're now outside (because there is a loss of credibility if you're actually outside even if you were inside once). I'm not bragging or claiming any inside knowledge about what God or the church are about to do - but when someone on the edge is continually saying "the focus needs to be on Jesus Christ" and suddenly the president of the church is saying we need to deepen our conversion to Jesus Christ (paraphrased), inside people notice (if they're paying attention at all).

Re: The Edge of Inside

Posted: 24 May 2019, 20:56
by SilentDawning
I think we also have to be very careful about the extent to which we claim to see more clearly than others. It's easy to elevate ourselves above others who are "blinded by tradition" (not that you said any of this, it just came to me as a thought). I remember Tom Hawes made this comment ages ago when he used to post here. And it stuck with me.

I have had to check myself a lot of times over this. As I sit in church and hear what I consider to be outrageous statements, I often have to remind myself that mine is just one of many perspectives. And that I could easily rival the arrogance/over-confidence I see in traditional believers with my own "arrogance". This arrogance would be born of my own perceived ability to see clearly, having tasted of the tree of knowledge of "good and not-so-good" in the church.

But having provided all these caveats, I would, as a leader, be very interested in what StayLDS has to say. I would also be interested in reading trends in traditional bloggernacle sites. But this one would give me the unvarnished truth. Free of censure due to speaking our minds, with a goal to remain active, I think the feedback we give here is valuable.

And I've seen a lot of changes occur that are in direct harmony with the comments made on StayLDS regarding areas where change is needed. Will everything change? I think not.

But I don't really see us as conscious change agents, agitators or people with an agenda in the church. Occasionally we talk about change, and how to effect it in our Wards, but it is often in the context of coping rather than agitating for change.

Re: The Edge of Inside

Posted: 25 May 2019, 06:04
by DarkJedi
SD, part of the trick is indeed not putting on any arrogance about understanding better/more/more clearly than the insiders. Starting a sentence with "Clearly you don"t understand..." is probably a sure way for others to stop listening. FWIW, how I talk here under the guise of anonymity and with like minded people is much different that how I present in a meeting or from the pulpit. I think we can be conscientious change agents, but that's a bit different from being an agitator. And usually we're in the situation where we have to think on our feet - the printed agenda is usually not presenting itself to big change on its own.

Re: The Edge of Inside

Posted: 25 May 2019, 19:38
by Daughter1
I didn't read the full article. I was too excited to see the topic and to share some related thoughts that have been rolling around my mind this last week.

Last Sunday I went to see Wicked (with the 2nd councilor in the RS presidency - I enjoy having friends on the Edge of Inside). I had listened to the music for years, but the play has a lot of dialogue that adds to the development of the characters and got me thinking about change and how to impact a monumental power as an individual.

For those who don't know the story, I'll be sharing a couple of "spoilers" to make these thoughts make sense. If you know the story, you can skip this paragraph. I'll change the color so you know what to skip because of spoilers/already know it. If it's a bit pale on your screen, highlight it to make it easier to read. Wicked is about the witches of Oz. Elphaba = the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda = Glinda the Good. We meet them at school/college where they become friends and start to see some of the injustices in Oz. Both of them are enamored of the Wizard and are excited to meet him. When they do, they learn he is the cause of much of the injustice and evil in Oz. Elphaba violently reacts and runs away to fight against the system with magic and power. Glinda "sells out" and stays within the system. This pits them publicly against each other. Eventually, Dorothy comes along, defeats Elphaba who has been essentially a demonized freedom fighter. She reconnects with Glinda right before the end and finally admits she couldn't fix the wrongs. Glinda, who has been enduring the increasingly manipulative efforts of those who maintain the status quo, feels as defeated as Elphaba at the apparent triumph of evil. Elphaba hands over the magic book to Glinda and tells her not to try to clear her own name and instead try to fix the problems from within the system. The end of the play suggests that she is going to be able to just that as she takes some major steps in the right direction.

As I watched the play, the different approaches to affecting change struck me very strongly. I have always been someone who is in the Middle of Inside. I "drink the kool-aid" of whatever group I'm with. School, church, work, anything. But as my view of truth has shifted, that has become an impossible place to be. I want to be Elphaba. I want to fix what I see wrong and educate others to find their correct path, screw "tradition." But that's not who I am. I've always deeply believed that lasting change must come from inside, whether a person or an organization is under discussion. I've been Glinda - and over the past few months I've worried about that. However, watching the play, I was reminded that being on the inside gives a power that no one outside could ever wield. Someone inside knows what small actions will have great impacts. Someone inside knows the words to say. And they have a better sense than others of just how fast you can move to make changes that will be accepted.

Walking downtown after the play let, I had a very clear realization "I'm like Glinda, and I'm proud of that." Glinda is a perfect illustration of someone on the Edge of Inside and it really helped me feel better about where I stand now to see that.

Re: The Edge of Inside

Posted: 26 May 2019, 13:52
by Roy
The world needs some of each. The world needs "settlers" that build big safe and familiar organizations. The world needs "explorers" that are more at home in the chaos and boundless beauty of the uncertain wilderness than they are with the manicured lawns and linear streets of the village. The world needs those that bring about change through active protest and agitation and also needs those who change the system from within. Each are helpful. Each serve a needful purpose.